Predation and contaminants are two possible factors in the poor recruitment of young lake charr Salvelinus namaycush in the Great Lakes. We measured the feeding rate of slimy sculpins Cottus cognatus and burbot Lota lota on young lake charr (uncontaminated young from eggs of a hatchery brood stock and contaminated young from eggs of Lake Michigan lake charr) in laboratory test chambers with a cobble substrate. The median daily consumption rate of sculpins for all tests was 2 lake charr eggs (N = 22 tests; 95% confidence interval, O-13) and 2 lake charr free embryos (N = 31 tests; 95% confidence interval, O-10). Feeding rate did not differ between hatchery and contaminated prey. Slimy sculpins continued to feed on lake charr when another prey organism, the deepwater amphipod Pontoporeia hoyi, was present. Feeding by burbot on free embryos (4-36 d-l) increased as the mobility of young increased, but burbot consumed about 10% of their body weight weekly in free-swimming young (140-380 d-l). Predation on lake charr eggs by sculpins could beconsiderable over the 100 to 140 d incubation period, and burbot could eat large numbers of free-swimming lake charr as the young fish left the reef. Predation pressure on young lake charr may inhibit rehabilitation ofself-sustaining populations of lake charr on some reefs unless a critical egg density has been reached.
Additional publication details
Feeding rate of slimy sculpin and burbot on young lake charr in laboratory reefs