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Tuesday, February 7 • 8:20am - 8:40am
Symposia Session - S7: Uncommon Techniques with Predators and Prey. Factors Affecting Levels of Larval Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser Fulvescens) Predation by Piscivorous Fishes in the Black River, MI

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AUTHORS: Justin Waraniak, Michigan State University Department of Fisheries & Wildlife; Edward Baker, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Kim Scribner, Michigan State University Department of Fisheries & Wildlife

ABSTRACT: Predation is a major factor affecting recruitment during early life stages of many fish species. Levels of predation of larval fish have been difficult to quantify using visual identification of morphological features, which can be quickly digested. Development of genetic tools has made predation studies on larval fish more feasible because prey DNA is detectable in predator digestive tracts much longer than physical remains can be identified. Potential fish predators (N=1155) of lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) larvae were collected in four 500-m transects dominated by sand (N=2) and gravel (N=2) substrates over 17 days during 2015 and 2016. Sampling of larvae dispersing from spawning areas was also conducted to estimate the nightly abundance of larval lake sturgeon and other potential prey (larvae of other fish species and macroinvertebrates) available to predators. The gastrointestinal (GI) tracts of predatory fish were dissected. DNA was extracted from the GI tract contents, and sturgeon-specific PCR primers that amplify part of the cytochrome oxidase subunit I region of mitochondrial DNA were used to detect the presence of lake sturgeon DNA. Analysis of samples from 2015 shows that the molecular assay was more successful identifying incidences of predation on lake sturgeon larvae (detecting lake sturgeon DNA in 26 of 353 samples) than visual morphological analysis (identifying lake sturgeon remains in one of 353 samples).  For all data, binomial logistic regression was used to assess the relative contributions of biotic (e.g. predator species, biomass of larval sturgeon in the drift) and abiotic variables (e.g. habitat substrate type, lunar phase) to variation in incidences of larval lake sturgeon predation. 

Tuesday February 7, 2017 8:20am - 8:40am CST
Grand Ballroom A