Baseline demographics of a non-native lake trout population and inferences for suppression from sensitivity-elasticity analyses


Correspondence: Benjamin S. Cox, Department of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife Ecology and Management Program, 301 Lewis Hall, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA (e-mail:


Management agencies in several western states of the United States are implementing suppression programmes to control non-native lake trout, Salvelinus namaycush (Walbaum), for the conservation of native species. This study was implemented to ascertain the population demographics of an expanding lake trout population and use those data to construct an age-structured model to inform suppression efforts. Population projection matrices were used to model population growth and identify age or stage classes with the greatest influence on population growth. The size and age structure of lake trout sampled was skewed towards juveniles, indicating strong recruitment and a growing population. Matrix-model simulations corroborated the observed size and age structure, as the lake trout population was predicted to grow exponentially (λ = 1.35, 95% CL: 1.25–1.43) with no suppression efforts. Elasticity analysis of matrix models indicated the relative contribution of survival rates to population growth among immature age classes was equal from age 0 to age at first maturity, but immature survival rates contributed more than adult survival and fertility rates. These results emphasise the importance of targeting juvenile lake trout for suppression efforts during exponential growth in recently established populations.