Predation risk and prey fish vertical migration in Lake Superior: Insights from an individual based model of siscowet (Salvelinus namaycush)

Thomas R Hrabik, Brian M. Roth, Tyler Ahrenstorff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Drivers of movement patterns in prey fishes are often multifactorial in nature, but difficult to discern in complex lake ecosystems. Our objectives were to examine interactions between predatory siscowet lake trout and kiyi and deepwater sculpin, under different modeling scenarios to address the ramifications of prey distribution strategies on foraging by siscowet. We built an individual based model (IBM) of free moving siscowet to examine changes in predation rate on prey species given four scenarios of prey distribution. The scenarios included: 1) the nominal scenario where kiyi perform diel vertical movements (DVM) as observed in western Lake Superior; 2) a random distribution scenario where siscowet move randomly; 3) a no DVM scenario where kiyi maintain position near the bottom 24 h a day; and 4) a no DVM scenario where kiyi maintain position near 35-m 24 h a day. In the nominal scenario, there was strong agreement between simulated distribution, growth and diet of siscowets relative to observations in Lake Superior. In scenarios 3 and 4, when kiyi maintained their distribution at 35-m or near the bottom, predation rates by siscowet were approximately 14 times and 2 times higher, respectively, compared to the normal strategy exhibited by kiyi (scenario 1). These findings indicate that the present kiyi DVM strategy significantly reduces predation compared to other evaluated strategies and helps stabilize predator-prey interactions over relatively long timescales. Future analyses examining the supply and demand in the Lake Superior food web may quantify the specific importance of DVM in stabilizing predator-prey interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-738
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Michael Sierszen, Dr. Gregory G. Sass and several anonymous referees provided thoughtful comments that greatly improved the manuscript. This work is the result of research sponsored by the Minnesota Sea Grant College Program, which is supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Sea Grant (U.S. Department of Commerce) under Grant Number NA07OAR4170009 . The article is journal reprint number JR619 of the Minnesota Sea Grant College Program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 International Association for Great Lakes Research.


  • Diel vertical migration
  • Kiyi
  • Multifactorial ultimate causes
  • Siscowet


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