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In laboratory studies, we quantified predation rates of crayfish (Orconectes virilis) on the eggs and sac fry of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) and a surrogate species, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), dispersed among different sized substrates (bare bottom, gravel, cobble, large rocks). Predation was most severe when no rocks were present. Feeding rate then decreased as the substrate changed from large rocks to cobble to gravel. Crayfish predation rate did not change with prey type -- rainbow trout and lake trout eggs or sac fry. Crayfish foraging in large tanks containing cobble averaged about two eggs or sac fry per day. In most instances, crayfish would have little impact on lake trout egg survival. Only in lake trout spawning grounds with relatively low egg densities, large crayfish populations, and cobble or large rock substrate, would crayfish be expected to have some impact on lake trout egg survival.
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Crayfish (Orconectes virilis) feeding on young lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush): effect of rock size