Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and steelhead (O. mykiss) have established naturalized populations throughout the Great Lakes. Young-of-year of these species occur sympatrically for about one month in Lake Ontario tributaries. This study examined the diets of subyearling Chinook salmon and steelhead relative to available food in the Salmon River, New York. Terrestrial invertebrates and trichopterans were the major prey of Chinook salmon, whereas steelhead fed primarily on baetid nymphs and chironomid larvae. Diet overlap was low (0.45) between the species. The diet of Chinook was closely associated to the composition of the drift (0.88). Steelhead diet drew equally from the drift and benthos during the first year of the study, but more closely matched the benthos during the second year. Differences in prey selection, perhaps associated with differences in fish size, in addition to apparent differences in feeding mode (drift versus benthic), likely reduce competitive interactions between these species.
Additional publication details
Comparative diets of subyearling Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and steelhead (O. mykiss) in the Salmon River, New York