Population analysis and food habits of the yellow perch, Perca flavescenes (Mitchill), in Indiana waters of Lake Michigan, 1984-86

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Gallinat, Michael P.
McComish, Thomas S. (Thomas Sherman), 1938-
Issue Date
Thesis (M.S.)--Ball State University, 1987.
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Yellow perch, Perca flavescens (Mitchill), were collected by trawling and gillnetting in Indiana waters of Lake Michigan near Michigan City, Indiana. Sampling was conducted during the months of June, July and August from 1984 through 1986.Growth rates and length-weight relationships were found to be considerably lower than those reported previously. Males declined 38 mm at age I, 55 mm at age II, 56 mm at age III and 35 mm at age IV comparing 1986 to 1976. Females showed similar declines for the same period at 40 mm for age I, 58 mm at age II, 66 mm at age III and 53 mm at age IV. The primary reason for the decrease in growth appears to be due to the current high population density of yellow perch in Indiana waters of Lake Michigan.Maturation of males for 1986 appears to be slower than that of 1984. All male perch were mature by age III in 1984. However, only 68x of the males were mature at the same age in 1986. In 1984, 94% of the females were mature by age IV while 86% were mature at the same age in 1986.Differences in maturation rate may be a reflection of the reduced growth rates. Size at maturity was found to be similar for both sexes in 1984 and 1986. All females were mature by 230-239 mm in 1984 and 220-229 mm in 1986. All male perch were mature at 180-189 mm in 1984 and 220-229 mm in 1986.Total estimated average annual percent mortalities of 79, 58, 66 and 55 were calculated for combined sexes from age composition analyses end trawl catch data for 1976 and 1984-86. Yellow perch production for 100 fish was estimated for June through August using the Allen curve method. Biomass of substock ( <130 mm), stock ( >129 mm) and quality fish (200 mm or larger) were estimated using Proportional Stock Density to investigate population structure. The Allen curve biomass models were modified to more accurately reflect the trawl catch density data as an index of population changes in 1976 compared to 1984-86. Theoretical biomass for the substock component increased 23 fold from 1976 to 1986. Biomass of the stock sized fish was estimated as 15 times greater in 1986 compared to 1976. Quality fish biomass varied from year to year with the average for 1984-86 estimated as 14 times greater than 1976. The most apparent factor now influencing deterioration of growth and resultant quality of the population is decreased mortality/increased survival with increase in biomass. If the low mortality rates observed for 1984-86 remain unchanged, the data indicate continued population density increases will result in even lower growth rates, and a population dominated by a higher percentage of small, non-quality fish.Food habit analyses for 1984 were compared to a diet study of yellow perch in 1972 for the study area. Zooplankton increased from 0.4x in 1972 to 9% of the volume in 1984 for 100-175 mm perch. This trend may reflect an increase in zooplankton populations in response to the population decline of the planktivorous alewife. Young-of-the-year yellow perch made up 85% of the stomach volume for 176-225 mm perch in 1984 while none were found in samples for 1972. This clearly shows yellow perch are resorting to cannibalism resulting from excessive intraspecific competition.Diet analyses by month revealed alewife eggs were moat important during peak abundance in June and July. Yellow perch (YOY) and Pontocoreia affinis became important during August. Analysis by size interval showed zooplankton and insects (primarily Chironomidae) were important to the diet of perch in the 30-59 mm (YOY) size interval. Copepoda were important by percent volume until approximately 60 mm when the zooplankton component switched to Cladocera. Data for 60-119 mm (age I+) fish indicates alewife eggs were important during June but insects became increasingly more important during July and August. Diversity in food items consumed diminished with increase in size as diet of 120-159 mm (age II+) yellow perch consisted largely of fish. Increases in percent volume of rainbow smelt in June and July, and Y0Y perch in August for age II+ and older perch compared to younger/smaller fish may be related to increased capture success. Diet of fish larger than 160 mm (age III+ and older) consisted almost entirely of rainbow smelt and Y0Y yellow perch.Ball State UniversityMuncie, IN 47306