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Food web alterations that promote native species: the recovery of cisco (Coregonus artedi) populations through management of native piscivores

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We evaluated the effects of fisheries management on food webs in three northern Wisconsin lakes with exotic rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax). In two of the lakes, restrictions on fishing reduced mortality rates on adult walleye (Sander vitreus) during the study period. In these lakes, walleye populations increased concurrently with a decline in rainbow smelt populations. As rainbow smelt populations declined in both lakes, native cisco (Coregonus artedi) populations increased. Our analysis of walleye diets illustrated that walleye fed selectively on rainbow smelt but did not feed on cisco during the summer months. When entered into bioenergetics simulations, this information demonstrates that walleye predation alone was enough to cause the observed rainbow smelt declines in our study lakes. Our results indicate that increased walleye density allows for a parallel increase in cisco density. Based on our results, fishery regulations to restore walleye to high densities in lakes invaded by rainbow smelt may restore native planktivores that have co-evolved traits.

Nous avons examiné les effets de la gestion des pêches sur les réseaux alimentaires dans trois lacs du nord du Wisconsin contenant des éperlans arc-en-ciel (Osmerus mordax) exotiques. Dans deux des lacs, la restriction de la pêche a entraîné une réduction des taux de mortalité chez les dorés (Sander vitreus) adultes durant la période d’étude. Dans ces lacs, les populations de dorés se sont accrues parallèlement à un déclin des populations d’éperlans arc-en-ciel. Au fur et à mesure que les populations d’éperlans arc-en-ciel ont diminué dans les deux lacs, les populations indigènes de ciscos de lac (Coregonus artedi) ont augmenté. Notre analyse du régime alimentaire des dorés montre que durant les mois d’été les dorés se nourrissent préférentiellement d’éperlans arc-en-ciel, mais non de ciscos de lac. Cette information, incorporée aux simulations bioénergétiques, démontre que la seule prédation par les dorés ne suffit pas à expliquer le déclin des populations d’éperlans arc-en-ciel observé dans nos lacs d’étude. Nos résultats indiquent que la densité accrue de dorés permet un accroissement en parallèle de la densité des ciscos de lac. D’après ces résultats, les règlements de pêche qui visent la restauration des fortes densités de dorés dans les lacs envahis par l’éperlan arc-en-ciel peuvent rétablir les planctonophages indigènes qui possèdent des caractéristiques coévoluées.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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