We measured growth of age-0 tiger muskellunge as a function of ration size (25, 50, 75, and 100% C(max))and water temperature (7.5-25??C) and compared experimental results with those predicted from a bioenergetic model. Discrepancies between actual and predicted values varied appreciably with water temperature and growth rate. On average, model output overestimated winter consumption rates at 10 and 7.5??C by 113 to 328%, respectively, whereas model predictions in summer and autumn (20-25??C) were in better agreement with actual values (4 to 58%). We postulate that variation in model performance was related to seasonal changes in esocid metabolic rate, which were not accounted for in the bioenergetic model. Moreover, accuracy of model output varied with feeding and growth rate of tiger muskellunge. The model performed poorly for fish fed low rations compared with estimates based on fish fed ad libitum rations and was attributed, in part, to the influence of growth rate on the accuracy of bioenergetic predictions. Based on modeling simulations, we found that errors associated with bioenergetic parameters had more influence on model output when growth rate was low, which is consistent with our observations. In addition, reduced conversion efficiency at high ration levels may contribute to variable model performance, thereby implying that waste losses should be modeled as a function of ration size for esocids. Our findings support earlier field tests of the esocid bioenergetic model and indicate that food consumption is generally overestimated by the model, particularly in winter months and for fish exhibiting low feeding and growth rates.
Additional publication details
Growth and food consumption by tiger muskellunge: Effects of temperature and ration level on bioenergetic model predictions