Seasonal Consumptive Demand and Prey Use by Stocked Saugeyes in Ohio Reservoirs
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Citation:Denlinger, Jonathan C. Sieber; Hale, R. Scott; Stein, Roy A. "Seasonal Consumptive Demand and Prey Use by Stocked Saugeyes in Ohio Reservoirs," Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, v. 135, no. 1, 2006, pp. 12-27.
Community structure and species composition may be strongly influenced by predator-prey interactions resulting from and leading to episodes of population abundance or scarcity. We quantified diets of stocked saugeyes (female walleye Sander vitreus × male sauger S. canadensis) and estimated biomass of their primary prey, gizzard shad Dorosoma cepedianum, in three Ohio reservoirs at quarterly intervals during July 2002-July 2003 to determine whether saugeye consumptive demand could exceed the supply of available gizzard shad prey, resulting in a shift to alternative prey. We incorporated water temperature and saugeye diet composition, growth, and mortality into walleye bioenergetics models, which allowed us to compare estimated prey-specific consumption rates by saugeyes with gizzard shad standing stocks estimated with acoustics. Spring and summer were critical seasons. During spring, gizzard shad biomass was low, saugeye consumptive demand was low, and saugeyes consumed primarily alternative prey. During summer, when age-0 gizzard shad became available as prey, saugeyes consumed similar proportions of gizzard shad and alternative prey. Saugeye cumulative consumptive demand in summer was high and approached the gizzard shad standing stock. However, during fall and winter, gizzard shad supply was adequate to support high (fall) or declining (winter) saugeye consumptive demand. Across reservoirs and seasons, saugeyes consumed alternative prey to varying degrees, primarily sunfishes Lepomis spp., yellow perch Perca flavescens, logperch Percina caprodes, and minnows Pimephales spp. Seasonal asynchrony between saugeye consumptive demand and gizzard shad biomass during spring and summer indicated that a saugeye population with high survival, growth, and consumptive demand will opportunistically increase use of prey other than gizzard shad. The manner in which saugeye predation quantitatively influences these prey species could not be assessed. However, overexploitation of gizzard shad prey appears to be unlikely at current saugeye population sizes, particularly considering the opportunistic use of alternative prey and the high reproductive potential of gizzard shad.
Funding for this research was provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife; Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Project F-69-P, Fish Management in Ohio; and the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at The Ohio State University.