We explored the importance of experience with feeding on live prey, of cataracts, of strain, and of maternally transferred contaminants for the feeding rate and predator avoidance behavior of young lake trout, Salvelinus namaycush. Hatchery-reared and feral juvenile lake trout were tested separately as predators on lake trout fry in tanks with artificial cobble reefs. Feral fish captured more prey per day and more prey per strike than did hatchery lake trout. The predatory performance of hatchery and feral fish did not improve significantly with experience. Feeding rates did not differ between lake trout with unilateral cataracts and normal-eyed fish, but significantly diminished for lake trout with bilateral cataracts. Neither strain nor contaminant background affected the ability of fry to feed or to avoid predators. Of the factors studied, previous experience with live food under natural conditions (i.e., the experience of feral fish) was the most important factor affecting feeding behavior of young lake trout.
Additional publication details
Factors affecting feeding behavior and survival of juvenile lake trout in the Great Lakes