Watershed development may alter tributaries in ways that influence the growth and development of juvenile fish. For Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, the extent of land cover influence on the diet composition of stream-residing juveniles is still an open but important question, particularly given their broad global distribution. Our study evaluated the effect of land cover on diet composition and condition metrics of juvenile Rainbow Trout in Lake Michigan tributaries. Juveniles were collected in the fall of 2014 and 2015 from 18 sampling locations across the Lake Michigan basin and included a wide variety of land cover types. Multivariate statistical procedures were used to quantitatively score sites along axes that maximized variation in land cover and diet composition. Subsequently, Spearman's rank correlations were used to test for significance of correlations between (a) land cover and diet composition, (b) land cover and fish condition, and (c) diet composition and fish condition. Our results indicated that land cover had an influence on the diet compositions of juvenile Rainbow Trout, but neither land cover nor diet composition had a significant influence on Rainbow Trout condition. These findings contrast with previously published work focusing on the growth responses of other fish species and provide insight into the plastic nature of Rainbow Trout. Further, we discuss potential ways in which fish may mitigate the effect of land cover changes as they are transmitted through stream food webs; however, the magnitude of the mitigation likely varies among fish species.
|Journal||Ecology of Freshwater Fish|
|State||Published - 2019|