Freshwater growth of juvenile sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) depends upon the quality and quantity of prey and interactions with potential competitors in the foraging environment. To a large extent, knowledge about the ecology of lake-rearing juvenile sockeye salmon has emerged from studies of commercially important runs returning to deep nursery lakes, yet information from shallow nursery lakes (mean depth ≤ 10 m) is limited. We examined seasonal and ontogenetic variation in diets of juvenile sockeye salmon (N = 219, 30–85 mm) and an abundant potential competitor, threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus; N = 198, 42–67 mm), to understand their foraging ecology and potential trophic interactions in a shallow Alaska lake. This study revealed that adult insects made up 74% of all sockeye salmon diets by weight and were present in 98% of all stomachs in Afognak Lake during the summer of 2013. Diets varied temporally for all fishes, but small sockeye salmon (<60 mm) showed a distinct shift in consumption from zooplankton in early summer to adult insects in late summer. We found significant differences in diet composition between sockeye salmon and threespine stickleback and the origin of their prey indicated that they also separated their use of habitat on a fine scale; however, the two species showed overlap in size selectivity of zooplankton prey. Considering that aquatic insects can be a primary resource for juvenile sockeye salmon in Afognak Lake, we encourage the development of nursery lake carrying capacity models that include aquatic insects as a prey source for sockeye salmon.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Prey partitioning and use of insects by juvenile sockeye salmon and a potential competitor, threespine stickleback, in Afognak Lake, Alaska|
|Series title||Ecology of Freshwater Fish|
|Contributing office(s)||Coop Res Unit Seattle|
|Other Geospatial||Afognak Lake|