Utilization of the exotic cladoceran Daphnia lumholtzi by juvenile fishes in an Illinois River floodplain lake
Daphnia lumholtzi comprises a substantial component of the zooplankton community during mid- to late-summer in Lake Chautauqua, a floodplain lake along the Illinois River near Havana, Illinois. In order to quantify the utilization of D. lumholtzi by juvenile fishes, diet analyses were conducted for seven juvenile fish species collected from Lake Chautauqua during the 2001 annual drawdown period. Freshwater drum Aplodinotus grunniens and emerald shiner Notropis atherinoides demonstrated negative selectivity for D. lumholtzi relative to native zooplankton species whereas four species of fish (bluegill Lepomis macrochirus, white bass Morone chrysops, white crappie Pomoxis annularis and black crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus) consumed substantial amounts of D. lumholtzi. Although selectivity values for D. lumholtzi varied among these fish species, positive selection for D. lumholtzi increased similarly among larger size classes of each fish species, and corresponded with ontogenetic shifts in diet. Mean body length of D. lumholtzi consumed by 20–69 mm LT juvenile fishes ranged from 0·75 to 0·99 mm with a calculated total length range of 2·0–2·6 mm. Results from this study provide evidence that high abundances of D. lumholtzi in mid- to late-summer provide an additional food source for several juvenile fish species during a time when abundances of large native cladoceran species (i.e. Daphnia) are low, and juvenile fishes are searching for larger prey associated with ontogenetic shifts from zooplankton to macroinvertebrates and fishes. Because zooplankton production is typically lower in rivers than in lakes, survivorship of juvenile fishes produced in floodplain lakes may be higher in riverine systems if they are not reliant on zooplankton as a primary food resource. Therefore, high abundances of D. lumholtzi may benefit juvenile fishes in managed floodplain lakes, such as Lake Chautauqua, by increasing growth and facilitating the transition from zooplanktivory to insectivory or piscivory.
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