We evaluated the Wisconsin bioenergetics model for lake whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis in the laboratory and in the field. For the laboratory evaluation, lake whitefish were fed rainbow smelt Osmerus mordax in four laboratory tanks during a 133-d experiment. Based on a comparison of bioenergetics model predictions of lake whitefish food consumption and growth with observed consumption and growth, we concluded that the bioenergetics model furnished significantly biased estimates of both food consumption and growth. On average, the model overestimated consumption by 61% and underestimated growth by 16%. The source of the bias was probably an overestimation of the respiration rate. We therefore adjusted the respiration component of the bioenergetics model to obtain a good fit of the model to the observed consumption and growth in our laboratory tanks. Based on the adjusted model, predictions of food consumption over the 133-d period fell within 5% of observed consumption in three of the four tanks and within 9% of observed consumption in the remaining tank. We used polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as a tracer to evaluate model performance in the field. Based on our laboratory experiment, the efficiency with which lake whitefish retained PCBs from their food (I?) was estimated at 0.45. We applied the bioenergetics model to Lake Michigan lake whitefish and then used PCB determinations of both lake whitefish and their prey from Lake Michigan to estimate p in the field. Application of the original model to Lake Michigan lake whitefish yielded a field estimate of 0.28, implying that the original formulation of the model overestimated consumption in Lake Michigan by 61%. Application of the bioenergetics model with the adjusted respiration component resulted in a field I? estimate of 0.56, implying that this revised model underestimated consumption by 20%.
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Evaluation of a lake whitefish bioenergetics model