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The interaction between two sculpin species, Cottus cognatus and Cottus aleuticus, and island beach spawning sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) was examined in Iliamna Lake, Alaska. We conclude that sculpins actively move to specific spawning beaches and that the initiation of their movements precedes the start of spawning. Sculpin predation on sockeye eggs is positively dependent on sculpin size and on the state of the eggs (fresh versus water hardened), with the largest sculpins able to consume nearly 50 fresh eggs at a single feeding and 130 over a 7-day period. The number of sculpins in sockeye nests is greatest at the beginning of the spawning run, lowest in the middle, and high again at the end, with peak numbers of over 100 sculpins per nest (1 m2). We discuss the results in terms of energy flow of marine-derived nutrients into an oligotrophic system and in terms of the coevolution of sockeye spawning behavior and the predatory behavior of sculpins.
Additional Publication Details
Ecological relationship between freshwater sculpins (Genus cottus) and beach-spawning sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in Iliamna Lake, Alaska
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences