Shift happens: Evaluating the ability of autumn stocked walleye Sander vitreus to shift to natural prey
Hatchery propagation techniques, such as pellet-rearing, can result in altered feeding behaviour. Walleye Sander vitreus (Mitchill) is a commonly propagated sportfish, yet little is known regarding its ability to switch to live prey post-stocking. The objectives were to evaluate temporal changes in diet composition and condition as well as evaluate the relationship between total length and presence of different prey consumed by stocked walleye fry and fingerlings. Fingerling walleye had higher average proportions of empty stomachs and benthic invertebrates but less fish that stocked walleye fry. The presence of zooplankton, benthic invertebrates or fish was not related to walleye length. Walleye condition was similar between cohorts and did not change over days post-stocking. Percent similarity index values between cohorts were variable (0.0 to 67.9%). It was concluded that stocked walleye fingerlings consume lower quality prey items than stocked fry counterparts at least up to 49-day post-stocking, which may have implications for post-stocking survival.
This article is published as Grausgruber, Emily E., and Michael J. Weber. "Shift happens: Evaluating the ability of autumn stocked walleye Sander vitreus to shift to natural prey." Fisheries Management and Ecology (2021). doi:10.1111/fme.12492.