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Growth rates of rainbow smelt in Lake Champlain: Effects of density and diet

January 1, 2011

We estimated the densities of rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) using hydroacoustics and obtained specimens for diet analysis and groundtruthed acoustics data from mid‐water trawl sampling in four areas of Lake Champlain, USA–Canada. Densities of rainbow smelt cohorts alternated during the 2‐year study; age‐0 rainbow smelt were very abundant in 2001 (up to 6 fish per m2) and age‐1 and older were abundant (up to 1.2 fish per m2) in 2002. Growth rates and densities varied among areas and years. We used model selection on eight area–year‐specific variables to investigate biologically plausible predictors of rainbow smelt growth rates. The best supported model of growth rates of age‐0 smelt indicated a negative relationship with age‐0 density, likely associated with intraspecific competition for zooplankton. The next best‐fit model had age‐1 density as a predictor of age‐0 growth. The best supported models (N = 4) of growth rates of age‐1 fish indicated a positive relationship with availability of age‐0 smelt and resulting levels of cannibalism. Other plausible models were contained variants of these parameters. Cannibalistic rainbow smelt consumed younger conspecifics that were up to 53% of their length. Prediction of population dynamics for rainbow smelt requires an understanding of the relationship between density and growth as age‐0 fish outgrow their main predators (adult smelt) by autumn in years with fast growth rates, but not in years with slow growth rates.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2011
Title Growth rates of rainbow smelt in Lake Champlain: Effects of density and diet
DOI 10.1111/j.1600-0633.2010.00472.x
Authors Thomson J.L. Stritzel, D.L. Parrish, S. L. Parker-Stetter, L. G. Rudstam, P.J. Sullivan
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology of Freshwater Fish
Series Number
Index ID 70034647
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization