Master of Science
James R. Reed, Jr.
Beginning in May, 1973 and continuing through August, 1974 the food habits of several species of game fishes from Lake Anna, Virginia were investigated via gut content analysis. A variety of collecting methods were employed to secure specimens for examination and stomach contents were reported as percent frequency of occurrence. A total of one hundred and two collections were made yielding 287 largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides (Lacépède); 166 chain pickerel, Esox; niger LeSueur; 53 bluegill, Lepomis macrochirus Rafinesque; 32 pumpkinseed, Lepomis gibbosus (Linnaeus); and 63 black crappie, Pomoxis nigromaculatus (LeSueur). It was found that M. salmoides and E. niger were the top carnivorous fishes in the lake with fish remains being the most commonly occurring food item. Fish remains were present in from 23.3% to 87.5% of the M. salmoides collected and were found in 45.6% to 76.0% of the E. niger sampled.
Specific dietary preferences of M. salmoides showed changes as the populations of forage fish species changed. In the first months of the study Cyprinidae were found
to be the dominant food item for this species. As the Centrarchidae population increased, members of that family became the primary forage fish. Gizzard shad, Dorosoma cepedianum (LeSueur) were found to be the most frequently occurring food species for both M. salmoides and E. niger; during the last two months of the study after a dramatic increase in the D. cepedianum population in the lake was noted.
The food habits of three species of smaller Centrarchidae (bluegill, Lepomis macrochirus Rafinesque; pumpkinseed. Lepomis gibbosus (Linnaeus); and black crappie, Pomoxis nigromaculatus (LeSueur) ) were also investigated during the latter half of the study. The three Centrarchidae species appeared to have species-specific dietary patterns allowing for minimal competition for food resources between the species.
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