Diporeia hoyi and Mysis relicta are the most important prey items of slimy sculpins (Cottus cognatus) in the Great Lakes. Slimy sculpins were collected from dreissenid-infested bottoms off seven Lake Michigan ports at depths of 27–73 m in fall 2003 to study their lake-wide diets. Relatively large dreissenid biomass occurred at depths of 37- and 46-m. Quagga mussels (Dreissena bugnesis) composed at least 50% of dreissenid biomass at Manistique, Saugatuck, and Sturgeon Bay. Mysis accounted for 82% of the sculpin diet by dry weight at eastern Lake Michigan while Diporeia composed 54–69% of the diet at western Lake Michigan and dominated the diets of slimy sculpins at all sites deeper than 46 m. In northern Lake Michigan, this diet study in new sites showed that slimy sculpin consumed more prey with low energy contents, especially chironomids, than Mysis and Diporeia in shallow sites (depth <55 m). We recommend diet studies on sedentary benthic fishes to be conducted along perimeters of the Great Lakes to observe changes in their diets that may be impacted by changing benthic macroinvertebrate communities.
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Vol. 36 • No. 2