We evaluated the energy density of bloaters Coregonus hoyi as a function of fish size across Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior in 2008–2009 and assessed how differences in energy density are related to factors such as biomass density of bloaters and availability of prey. Additional objectives were to compare energy density between sexes and to compare energy densities of bloaters in Lake Michigan between two time periods (1998–2001 and 2008–2009). For the cross-lake comparisons in 2008, energy density increased with fish total length (TL) only in Lake Michigan. Mean energy density adjusted for fish size was 8% higher in bloaters from Lake Superior than in bloaters from Lake Huron. Relative to fish in these two lakes, small (<125 mm TL) bloaters from Lake Michigan had lower energy density, whereas large (>175 mm TL) bloaters had higher energy density. In 2009, energy density increased with bloater size, and mean energy density adjusted for fish size was about 9% higher in Lake Michigan than in Lake Huron (Lake Superior was not sampled during 2009). Energy density of bloaters in Lake Huron was generally the lowest among lakes, reflecting the relatively low densities of opossum shrimp Mysis diluviana and the relatively high biomass of bloaters reported for that lake. Other factors, such as energy content of prey, growing season, or ontogenetic differences in energy use strategies, may also influence cross-lake variation in energy density. Mean energy density adjusted for length was 7% higher for female bloaters than for male bloaters in Lakes Michigan and Huron. In Lake Superior, energy density did not differ between males and females. Finally, energy density of bloaters in Lake Michigan was similar between the periods 2008–2009 and 1998–2001, possibly due to a low population abundance of bloaters, which could offset food availability changes linked to the loss of prey such as the amphipods Diporeia spp.
Additional publication details
Energy density of bloaters in the upper Great Lakes