Abundance and biomass of slimy sculpin (Cottus cognatus) declined in Lake Ontario at depths most frequently occupied by juvenile lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) (<70 m), but not at greater depths, during 1980-1987. The abundance of juvenile lake trout increased at depths less than 70 m between 1980 and 1987, and slimy sculpin abundance was negatively correlated with lake trout abundance. The size of slimy sculpins caught at depths less than 70 m decreased between 1980 and 1987, fish 50-99 mm becoming less common and fish 100 mm or longer becoming rare. The size of slimy sculpins at depths greater than 70 m did not change. Because slimy sculpins are the principal fish eaten by juvenile lake trout, and because juvenile lake trout were most abundant at depths where the greatest changes in the slimy sculpin population took place, we conclude that juvenile lake trout in Lake Ontario altered the slimy sculpin population. No significant correlations were found between abundance of slimy sculpins and those of the two most abundant fishes in Lake Ontario: alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax).
Additional publication details
Response of slimy sculpins to predation by juvenile lake trout in southern Lake Ontario