Assessing drivers of prey availability to sportfish in Ohio reservoirs
Rebecca Dillon – PhD Student
Prey availability often plays an essential role in driving sportfish growth and subsequent recruitment. The central goals of our project are to help improve the ability of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Division of Wildlife (ODNR-DOW) to (1) better understand the ecological mechanisms that might underlie seasonal variation in zooplankton (ZP) availability to larval and juvenile (pre-recruited) sportfishes, and (2) better assess prey-fish availability (i.e., Gizzard Shad, Dorosoma cepedianum) to large-bodied top predators in Ohio reservoirs.
Our project will largely focus on the role of a common macroinvertebrate (i.e., Chaoborus spp.) in influencing availability of both prey-fish and ZP. We will address pertinent information gaps by (1) determining how food web interactions and physicochemical conditions combine to influence ZP prey availability to pre-recruited sportfishes, and (2) quantifying the bias introduced by Chaoborus into hydroacoustics estimates of available prey-fish biomass and developing a model to correct for this bias.
For more information check out the project page on the AEL website.