Date of this Version
JOURNAL OF FRESHWATER ECOLOGY 2019, VOL. 34, NO. 1, 27–36
The ontogenetic diet shift to piscivory can be energetically beneficial for fish growth and allows larger, more energetically profitable prey to be consumed. A shift to piscivory may be easier for longer individuals within a cohort due to larger gape size, and an early shift is likely advantageous, potentially leading to increased growth rates and survival. Such length-dependent ontogenetic diet shifts may explain the intracohort variability in length that is common for age-0 walleye (Sander vitreus). The objectives of this study were to describe seasonal intracohort variability in length, identify the timing of the shift to piscivory and determine if the onset of piscivory was length-dependent in age-0 walleye. Walleye initially fed on zooplankton, but shifted to piscivory during July of 2010 and June of 2011. The onset of piscivory in age-0 walleye was associated with length-dependent differences during both years, in which longer individuals within the cohort became piscivorous earlier than shorter individuals within the same cohort. Intracohort variability in length was detected and increased postontogenetic diet shift. Age-0 walleye that experience a growth advantage could benefit from increased survival and feeding opportunities.
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