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The abundance of white bass (Morone chrysops) in Lake Erie has declined in recent years, sparking interest in mechanisms influencing its recruitment. We evaluate two mechanisms affecting recruitment: diet and the potential for competition, and storage of lipid energy reserves and the relationship to overwinter survival. The fish in our study were characteristic of white bass in the northern portion of their range, feeding predominantly on zooplankton. Only the largest age-0 white bass ate fish as a significant portion of their diet. Over the summer sampling period, we found decreasing ration sizes, expressed as a percentage of maximum ration, as the summer progressed with a concomitant decrease in the relative amount of lipid storage. In laboratory experiments, age-0 white bass held at 5??C and given food ad libitum did feed, but at rates that were insufficient to maintain body weight. Loss in weight was accompanied with a loss in lipids at a rate of 2.8 mg of lipids per gram of body weight per day. Based on our data, we concluded that age-0 white bass in Lake Erie were food-limited. Food limitation resulted in reduced growth rates, presumably related to competition with other planktivorous fishes. Reduced growth results in increased mortality and, ultimately, low recruitment through increased risk of predation by larger piscivorous fishes, reduced ability for white bass to switch to more energetically profitable piscivory and the increased likelihood of higher overwinter mortality because of reduced lipid stores.
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The influence of diet, consumption and lipid use on recruitment of white bass