Exploring yellow perch diets in Lake Michigan through stomach content, fatty acids, and stable isotope ratios

Austin Happel, Sara Creque, Jacques Rinchard, Tomas Höök, Harvey Bootsma, John Janssen, David Jude, Sergiusz Czesny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Describing food web structure through either direct or indirect diet analysis is often a fundamental step in elucidating ecosystem dynamics and developing resource management goals. The present study examines spatial trophic connections in an opportunistic forager, juvenile yellow perch (Perca flavescens), through the concomitant use of stomach content, fatty acid profiles, and stable isotope ratio methods. During September 2010, yellow perch were collected at nine coastal locations representative of Lake Michigan's habitat heterogeneity. The three diet assessment methods revealed differential levels of spatial diet heterogeneity. In general, yellow perch relied on pelagic prey more along the eastern shoreline, and over rocky substrates within each shoreline grouping. Conversely, high benthivory was noted in yellow perch from sandy substrates and western locations. Intra-population spatial diet dissimilarity may be common yet over looked among other species within large systems. We further advocate the concurrent examination of chemical ecological tracers (e.g., stable isotopes and fatty acid profiles) and stomach contents to investigate diet patterns of predators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-178
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Diet composition
  • Fatty acid profiles
  • Lake michigan
  • Stable isotope ratios
  • Yellow perch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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