Lake herring, Coregonus artedi, were once extremely abundant in the Great Lakes where they functioned as a major trophic integrator, directly linking the planktonic crustacean resource to lake trout. Salvelinus namaycush. Lake herring populations in the Great Lakes collapsed during the middle third of the 20th century due to overfishing, degradation of critical habitat in major production areas, and interaction with exotic species. Fishery and habitat impediments to the recovery of lake herring have been removed, and it may now be possible to reestablish the species in its former habitats in the Great Lakes if adverse interactions with exotic species can be controlled within acceptable limits. To determine the potential for thermal niche overlap and adverse interaction with exotic fishes, juvenile (age-0) lake herring were held in the laboratory at 5, 10, 15, 18, and 21 C, and fed ad libitum for 54 days. The optimum temperature for growth in weight was about 14.5 C, indicating the fundamental thermal niche was 12.5-16.5 C. Fish used in the growth study were also tested in a vertical thermal gradient tank to measure their final preferendum. The final preferendum, 16.5 C, was in close agreement with the optimum temperature for growth and within the fundamental thermal niche. Both the optimum temperature for growth and the final preferendum have been used as measures of thermal niche, but this is the first time both measures were made on the same group of fish. Published information on the fundamental thermal niche, preferred temperatures, thermal habitat use, and feeding habits of alewives, rainbow smelt, and ruffe, indicates they will co-occur in spring, or summer with age-0 lake herring and that collectively they pose a predation threat to small, age-0 lake herring.
Additional publication details
The growth-temperature relation and preferred temperatures of juvenile lake herring