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Spatial variability of lake trout diets in Lakes Huron and Michigan revealed by stomach content and fatty acid profiles

Happel, Austin, Jonas, Jory L., McKenna, Paul R., Rinchard, Jacques, He, Ji Xiang, Czesny, Sergiusz J.
Canadian journal of fisheries and aquatic sciences 2018 v.75 no.1 pp. 95-105
Alosa pseudoharengus, Neogobius melanostomus, Osmerus mordax, Salvelinus namaycush, adults, diet, fatty acid composition, fatty acids, fish, food webs, hatcheries, lakes, muscles, reproductive success, shorelines, spatial variation, stomach, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Michigan
Despite long-term efforts to restore lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) populations in the Great Lakes, they continue to experience insufficient recruitment and rely on hatchery programs to sustain stocks. As lake trout reproductive success has been linked to diets, spatial heterogeneity in diet compositions is of interest. To assess spatial components of adult lake trout diets, we analyzed stomach contents and fatty acid profiles of dorsal muscle collected throughout Lake Michigan and along Lake Huron’s Michigan shoreline. Lake trout from Lake Huron were generally larger in both length and mass than those from Lake Michigan. However, lake trout from Lake Michigan varied more in size based on depth of capture with smaller fish being caught more in deeper set nets. Fatty acids and stomach contents indicated that alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) were consumed more in western Lake Michigan in contrast with round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) along the eastern shoreline. Conversely, in Lake Huron, lake trout primarily consumed rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax). These results indicate that diet compositions of lake trout populations are relatively plastic and offer new insights into within-basin heterogeneity of Great Lakes food webs.