Food resource effects on diel movements and body size of cisco in north-temperate lakes

Tyler D. Ahrenstorff, Thomas R Hrabik, Peter C. Jacobson, Donald L. Pereira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The movement patterns and body size of fishes are influenced by a host of physical and biological conditions, including temperature and oxygen, prey densities and foraging potential, growth optimization, and predation risk. Our objectives were to (1) investigate variability in vertical movement patterns of cisco (Coregonus artedi) in a variety of inland lakes using hydroacoustics, (2) explore the causal mechanisms influencing movements through the use of temperature/oxygen, foraging, growth, and predation risk models, and (3) examine factors that may contribute to variations in cisco body size by considering all available information. Our results show that cisco vertical movements vary substantially, with different populations performing normal diel vertical migrations (DVM), no DVM, and reverse DVM in lakes throughout Minnesota and northern Wisconsin, USA. Cisco populations with the smallest body size were found in lakes with lower zooplankton densities. These smaller fish showed movements to areas of highest foraging or growth potential during the day and night, despite moving out of preferred temperature and oxygen conditions and into areas of highest predation risk. In lakes with higher zooplankton densities, cisco grew larger and had movements more consistent with behavioral thermoregulation and predator avoidance, while remaining in areas with less than maximum foraging and growth potential. Furthermore, the composition of potential prey items present in each lake was also important. Cisco that performed reverse DVM consumed mostly copepods and cladocerans, while cisco that exhibited normal DVM or no migration consumed proportionally more macro-zooplankton species. Overall, our results show previously undocumented variation in migration patterns of a fish species, the mechanisms underlying those movements, and the potential impact on their growth potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1309-1320
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments Donn Branstrator, Stephanie Guildford, Robert Hecky, John Pastor, and several anonymous reviewers deserve thanks for providing comments on the proposal and earlier versions of this manuscript. We thank Andy Carlson, Allison Gamble, Kyle Gilles, Logan Jacobson, Tyler Kaspar, Jiethyl Piersak, Cindy Tomcko, and numerous Minnesota Department of Natural Resource interns for field assistance. This work was funded by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Natural Resources, through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and by a University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship awarded to T.D. Ahrenstorff.


  • Dwarf
  • Growth
  • Predation risk
  • Reverse
  • Vertical migration


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