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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Increased predation by Juvenile Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus Nerka Walbaum) relative to changes in Macrozooplankton abundance in Babine Lake, British Columbia Rankin, David Paul

Abstract

A two year study was initiated in 1973 to examine effects of substantial (3.8 fold; from a 1962-66 mean of 39 million to about 150 million in 1973 and 1974) increases in sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka) Walbaum) fry numbers on zooplankton abundance in Babine Lake. Several lake areas and stationsware sampled for zooplankton bimonthly from May to October during 1973 and 1974 and compared to data gathered between 1958 and 1962 prior to a large scale enhancement program for sockeye stocks. Zooplankton biomass had decreased up to 70% in some areas of the lake during 1973, but only 40% in 1974. Decreases in numbers were also evident. Although seasonal changes in fry diet followed changes in zooplankton species abundance, feeding was selective. The less abundant but larger forms, Daphnia and Heterocope together comprised 70% of the diet during summer, while Cyclops and Diaptomus formed the bulk (87%) of the diet in late fall. Significant decreases in Daphnia and Diaptomus abundance and increases in nauplii-early copepodite abundance had occurred by 1973. The increased 1974 zooplankton abundance relative to 1973 was attributed to decreased mid-summer fry numbers in the lake. Field data suggested low Diaptomus numbers contributed to much higher fry mortality (about double in 1974) compared to 1973. An experimental study of species selectivity by sockeye fry indicated that they selected Cyclops and Diaptomus adults. The larger copepods, Heterocope and Epischura, were rejected by fry encountering zooplankton for the first time. Copepodites and nauplii were rejected, but less so when preferred prey were scarce. Prey activity, in my experiments, could not be used to predict predation vulnerability and hence the species selectivity displayed by the fry. Light and temperature had little effect on Cyclops, Dlaptomus and Heterocope activity.

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