Date of this Version
Jolley JC, Willis DW, Holland RS. 2010. Match–mismatch regulation for bluegill and yellow perch larvae and their prey in Sandhill lakes. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 1(2):73–85; e1944-687X. doi: 10.3996/062010- JFWM-018
Food availability may regulate fish recruitment, both directly and indirectly. The availability of zooplankton, especially to newly hatched larvae, is thought to be crucial to their early growth and survival. We examined stomach contents of larval bluegill Lepomis macrochirus and yellow perch Perca flavescens in Pelican Lake and Cameron Lake, Nebraska, in 2004 and 2005. We also determined zooplankton availability and calculated prey selection using Chesson’s a. In addition, we investigated potential match–mismatch regulation of recruitment from 2004 to 2008. Bluegill positively selected copepod nauplii and Bosmina spp., and yellow perch often selected copepods. Abundant zooplankton populations were available for consumption. Matches of both larval bluegill and yellow perch abundance to zooplankton abundance were detected in all years; exact matches were common. Mismatches in predator and prey production were not observed. Predation by age-0 yellow perch on age-0 bluegill was not observed, even though yellow perch hatched 2 mo prior to bluegill. Given that zooplankton were abundant and well-timed to larval fish relative abundance over the time span of this study, the match–mismatch hypothesis alone may not fully account for observed recruitment variability in these populations. Environmental conditions may also affect recruitment and warrant further investigation.