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Chronicling Long-Term Predator Responses to a Shifting Forage Base in Chesapeake Bay: An Energetics Approach
- Overton, Anthony S., Griffin, Jennifer C., Margraf, F. Joseph, May, Eric B., Hartman, Kyle J.
- Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 2015 v.144 no.5 pp. 956-966
- Anchoa mitchilli, Brevoortia tyrannus, Callinectes, Morone saxatilis, bass, crabs, diet, energy, energy metabolism, forage, trophic relationships, Chesapeake Bay
- The population of Striped Bass Morone saxatilis in Chesapeake Bay has increased significantly since the 1980s because of management efforts while the relative abundance of some key prey fish has declined since the 1970s. We examined the trophic interactions and prey consumption patterns of Striped Bass in Chesapeake Bay to determine how Striped Bass have responded to changing prey resources. Seasonal diet, growth, and thermal data were collected from 1955 to 1959, 1990 to 1992, and 1998 to 2001; these data were coupled with a bioenergetics model approach to characterize temporal patterns in prey consumption for Striped Bass. The estimates were compared across each period to build a historical prey consumption profile from 1955 to 2001. Prey consumption dynamics for Striped Bass have changed dramatically between 1955 and 2001. In general, Striped Bass in the early and late 1990s consumed less Atlantic Menhaden Brevoortia tyranus and more Bay Anchovy Anchoa mitchilli than during the 1950s. The largest differences in consumption were observed in the younger age-classes. During 1998–2001, age-1 and age-2 Striped Bass consumed, respectively, 15.5 and 11.9 times less Atlantic Menhaden than during the 1950sand 12.2 and 7.2 less than during 1990–1992. Bay Anchovy were almost absent in the diet of bass age 3 and older during the 1950s but were consumed by the age-3+ group during 1990–1992 and to a greater extent during 1998–2001. Age-3+ Striped Bass during 1998–2001, on average, consumed twice as much Bay Anchovy than during 1990–1992. Blue crab Callinectes sappidus were consumed only by age 2 in the 1950s and 1990–1992 and by ages 2 and older in 1998–2001. Age-2 bass consumed 8.8 more blue crab in 1990–1992 and 7.5 times more in 1998–2001 than during the 1950s. The patterns in the consumption of Atlantic Menhaden coincided with increased consumption of Bay Anchovy and blue crab, possibly as a result of the declines in Atlantic Menhaden relative abundance in Chesapeake Bay. The difference in consumption was also evident in the total energy consumed; age-1 and age-6 Striped Bass consumed 1.6 times more energy in 1955–1959 than during 1998–2001. Our research demonstrates how the elements of Striped Bass feeding, including diet composition, amount of food eaten, and consumption rates, are affected by prey resources.