Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 101, Issue 7, pp 1161–1174 | Cite as

Seasonal feeding ecology of co-existing native and invasive benthic fish along a nearshore to offshore gradient in Lake Michigan

  • Steven A. Pothoven


Relative abundance, diet composition and feeding strategy were determined for three benthic fish, the native deepwater sculpin Myoxocephalus thompsonii (Girard, 1851) and slimy sculpin Cottus cognatus (Richardson, 1836), and the invasive round goby Neogobius melanostomus (Pallas, 1814), along a nearshore to offshore gradient in southeastern Lake Michigan during March–December 2010, 2015, and 2016. Round goby were most abundant in the nearshore (<25 m), slimy sculpin were most abundant in the transitional zone (35–65 m), and deepwater sculpin were most abundant in the offshore zone (>75 m). Despite a large degree of spatial separation, some species did overlap, with slimy and deepwater sculpin occurring in sympatry throughout the year in the offshore and transitional zones, and round goby overlapping with both sculpin species seasonally in the transitional zone. Deepwater sculpin exhibited specialization on Mysis diluviana in all depth regions. Slimy sculpin in the offshore reduced diet overlap with deepwater sculpin by specializing on fish eggs during spring and fall, whereas in the transitional depth zone, there was considerable overlap between sculpin species due to the high importance of Mysis in diets. The invasive round goby had a mixed diet, with some diet overlap with native sculpin, especially slimy sculpin, in the transitional zone. In the nearshore zone, round goby displayed a generalized diet with many prey contributing to the diet, but the average contribution of any prey was generally low. Spatial separation and variable feeding strategies help reduce, but not eliminate shared resource use amongst these benthic fish in Lake Michigan.


Sculpin Round goby Feeding strategy Benthic food web Mysis 



We would like to thank those that provided help in the field and laboratory, including the crew of the RV Laurentian, D. Ruberg, J. Rediske, A. Zantello, J. Elliott, and A. Dunnuck. Handling of fishes followed the guidelines provided in the “Guidelines for the use of fishes in research” published by the American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD. This is GLERL contribution # 1881.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory-National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationMuskegonUSA

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