We examined the feeding ecology of larval lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in Chaumont Bay, Lake Ontario, during April and May 2004–2006. Larvae were collected with towed ichthyoplankton nets offshore and with larval seines along the shoreline. Larval feeding periodicity was examined from collections made at 4-h intervals over one 24-h period in 2005. Inter-annual variation in diet composition (% dry weight) was low, as was spatial variation among collection sites within the bay. Copepods (81.4%), primarily cyclopoids (59.1%), were the primary prey of larvae over the 3-year period. Cladocerans (8.1%; mainly daphnids, 6.7%) and chironomids (7.3%) were the other major prey consumed. Larvae did not exhibit a preference for any specific prey taxa. Food consumption of lake whitefish larvae was significantly lower at night (i.e., 2400 and 0400 h). Substantial variation in diet composition occurred over the 24-h diel study. For the 24-h period, copepods were the major prey consumed (50.4%) and their contribution in the diet ranged from 29.3% (0400 h) to 85.9% (1200 h). Chironomids made up 33.4% of the diel diet, ranging from 8.0% (0800 h) to 69.9% (0400 h). Diel variation in the diet composition of lake whitefish larvae may require samples taken at several intervals over a 24-h period to gain adequate representation of their feeding ecology.
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Vol. 35 • No. 4