Alewife planktivory controls the abundance of two invasive predatory cladocerans in Lake Michigan


Steven A. Pothoven, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, 1431 Beach Street, Muskegon, MI 49441, U.S.A. E-mail:


1. We sampled along a nearshore transect (10-m bathymetric contour) in Lake Michigan to determine diet, 24-h feeding periodicity, daily ration and food requirements of an invasive fish, the alewife, Alosa pseudoharengus, relative to zooplankton abundance and production. Our objective was to determine whether the alewife controls the abundance of two invasive, predatory cladocerans, Bythotrephes longimanus and Cercopagis pengoi.

2. Bosminidae was the most abundant prey taxon and Chydoridae, Leptodora, Chironomidae and Bythotrephes were the least abundant. Neither Bythotrephes nor Cercopagis were important prey for small alewives (≤100 mm). Bythotrephes was eaten by over 50% of large alewives (>100 mm) and accounted for 10–27% of the diet weight. Cercopagis was eaten by about 30% of the large alewives but only accounted 1% of the diet weight.

3. Food weight in stomachs was highest early in the night for small alewives and lowest at night for large alewives. Chironomidae and large Chydoridae were the preferred prey of small alewives. Bythotrephes and large Chydoridae were the preferred prey for large alewives.

4. Food requirements of alewife were much less than production for most prey taxa, although the consumption of Bythotrephes greatly exceeded production on both dates. Alewives consumed only 3% of Cercopagis production. High selectivity and food requirements of alewife for Bythotrephes, and low selectivity and food requirements for Cercopagis, probably explain the difference in abundance between these two invasive cladocerans at our nearshore site in Lake Michigan.