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To better understand the role of piscivorous waterbirds in the food web of western Lake Erie, we applied a bioenergetics model to determine their total fish consumption, The important nesting species included the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), Ring-billed Gull (L. delawarensis), Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), and Great Egret (Casmerodius albus). The impact of migrant waterbirds, including the Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator), on western Lake Erie fish biomass was also considered in the analysis. According to the modeling results, during the early 1990s, piscivorous waterbirds consumed 13,368 tonnes of fish from western Lake Erie each year. This tonnage was equivalent to 15.2% of the prey fish biomass needed to support the walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) population in western Lake Erie during a single growing season. The model application was useful in quantifying energy flow between birds and fish in a large lake ecosystem.
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Waterbird predation on fish in western Lake Erie: a bioenergetics model application