As part of continuing studies of the reproductive failure of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in Lake Michigan, we measured the survival of lake trout eggs and fry of different origins and reared in different environments. Eggs and milt were stripped from spawning lake trout collected in the fall of 1980 from southeastern Lake Michigan, northwestern Lake Huron, south central Lake Superior, and from hatchery brood stock. Eggs from all sources were incubated, and the newly hatched fry were reared for 139 days in lake water from each of the three upper Great Lakes and in well water. Survival of eggs to hatching at all sites was lowest for those from Lake Michigan (70% of fertilized eggs) and highest for eggs from Lake Superior (96%). Comparisons of incubation water from the different lakes indicated that hatching success of eggs from all sources was highest in Lake Huron water, and lowest in Lake Michigan water. The most notable finding was the nearly total mortality of fry from eggs of southeastern Lake Michigan lake trout. At all sites, the mean survival of Lake Michigan fry through 139 days after hatching was only 4% compared to near 50% for fry from the other three sources. In a comparison of the rearing sites, little influence of water quality on fry survival was found. Thus, the poor survival was associated with the source of eggs and sperm, not the water in which the fry were reared.
Additional publication details
Survival of lake trout eggs and fry reared in water from the upper Great Lakes