We evaluated the effects of fisheries management on food webs in three northern Wisconsin lakes with exotic rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax). In two of the lakes, restrictions on fishing reduced mortality rates on adult walleye (Sander vitreus) during the study period. In these lakes, walleye populations increased concurrently with a decline in rainbow smelt populations. As rainbow smelt populations declined in both lakes, native cisco (Coregonus artedi) populations increased. Our analysis of walleye diets illustrated that walleye fed selectively on rainbow smelt but did not feed on cisco during the summer months. When entered into bioenergetics simulations, this information demonstrates that walleye predation alone was enough to cause the observed rainbow smelt declines in our study lakes. Our results indicate that increased walleye density allows for a parallel increase in cisco density. Based on our results, fishery regulations to restore walleye to high densities in lakes invaded by rainbow smelt may restore native planktivores that have co-evolved traits.
|Number of pages
|Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
|Published - Oct 2005