Sculpins and Crayfish in Lake Trout Spawning Areas in Lake Ontario: Estimates of Abundance and Egg Predation on Lake Trout Eggs

June 1, 2015 - <>, John D. Fitzsimons, David L. Perkins

Journal or Book Title: Journal of Great Lakes Research

Keywords: Lake trout; sculpins; crayfish; predation; Lake Ontario

Volume/Issue: 28:3

Page Number(s): 421-436

Year Published: 2002

Crayfish (Orconectes spp.) and sculpins (Cottus spp.) were collected at eight lake trout spawning reefs in Lake Ontario to assess abundance and potential to consume lake trout eggs. Abundance of crayfish ranged from a high of 9.5/m2 in eastern Lake Ontario to 0/m2 in western Lake Ontario where the absence or near absence at four reefs sampled was attributed to cold water upwelling. Sculpin abundance ranged from 4.2 to 50.1/m2. Mean daily egg consumption (eggs/stomach) for sculpins 50 to 75 mm in length, ranged from 0 to 0.9 but differences among reefs were not significant. At one reef, significantly more eggs (2.5 eggs/stomach) were consumed by large sculpins (> 75 mm) than by small (44–49mm) sculpins (0.2 eggs/stomach). Estimated egg consumption (eggs/stomach/m2) for sculpins > 43 mm for the eight reefs for the period between estimated date of peak lake trout spawning and a standardized 30-d period post spawning, ranged from 0 to 496 eggs/m2 consumed or from 0 to 54% of estimated egg abundance. No lake trout eggs were found in crayfish stomachs, because of their mode of feeding. Estimated egg consumption by crayfish was indirectly estimated from a relationship developed between carapace length and egg consumption using published literature and experimental work. Using this procedure, estimated egg consumption by crayfish for a standardized 30-d period after the date of peak spawning ranged from 0 to 65 eggs/m2 consumed, or from 0 to 82% of potential egg abundance for the eight reefs. At low egg abundance (< 100/m2), the density of crayfish and sculpin observed in Lake Ontario could result in sufficient egg consumption to cause almost 100% mortality of lake trout eggs. At higher egg abundance, however, mortality due to crayfish and sculpins appears to be relatively low. Deposition was sufficiently low at 5 of 8 sites to suggest the possible importance of sculpin and crayfish predation on lake trout recruitment failure in Lake Ontario.

DOI: 10.1016/S0380-1330(02)70595-9

Type of Publication: Journal Article

Editor(s): Donald A. Jackson

Publisher: Elsevier


Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at