In Lake Michigan, the unintended introduction of invasive species (e.g., zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha; quagga mussel, D. rostriformis bugensis; round goby, Neogobius melanostomus) and reduced nutrient loading has altered nutrient dynamics, system productivity, and community composition over the past two decades. These factors, together with sustained predation pressure, have contributed to declines of several forage fish species, including alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), which has dominated diets of the five primary salmonine species of Lake Michigan for the last 50 years. Salmonines that have inflexible, less complex diets may struggle if alewife declines continue. We analyzed stomach contents of salmonines collected throughout the main basin of Lake Michigan in 2015 and 2016 to investigate diet composition, diet diversity, and individual variation of alewife lengths consumed. Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) almost exclusively consumed alewife and had lower diet diversities compared to the other four species, which consumed relatively high frequencies of round goby (brown trout, Salmo trutta; lake trout, Salvelinus namaycush), aquatic invertebrates (coho salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch) and terrestrial invertebrates (rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss) along with alewife. Although clear spatio-temporal feeding patterns existed, much of the variation in diet composition and diet diversity was expressed at the individual level. Salmonine populations consumed the entire size range of alewife that were available, whereas individual stomachs tended to contain a narrow range of alewife sizes. Due to their reliance on alewife, it is likely that Chinook salmon will be more negatively impacted than other salmonine species if alewife abundance continues to decline in Lake Michigan.
- Lake Michigan
- Stomach contents
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science