, Volume 575, Issue 1, pp 259–270 | Cite as

Identification of critical prey items to Appalachian brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) with emphasis on terrestrial organisms

  • Ryan M. UtzEmail author
  • Kyle J. Hartman
Primary Research Paper


Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in Appalachia experience prolonged periods of poor feeding conditions, particularly during summer and fall. To determine which prey organisms are important in sustaining brook trout populations, we monitored the feeding patterns of a population of brook trout over the course of 2 years with an emphasis on seasonal change. We employed a bioenergetics model to estimate whether or not each fish had obtained enough energy to meet daily metabolic demand. As a result, qualitative comparisons between fish feeding above maintenance ration (successfully feeding fish) and fish feeding below maintenance ration (unsuccessfully feeding fish) were possible. With the exception of winter, brook trout derived significantly more energy from terrestrial organisms than aquatic organisms. During each season, successfully feeding brook trout fed on greater proportions of specific prey types. Terrestrial Coleoptera and Lepidoptera consistently proved to be important prey during warmer seasons, while large organisms such as vertebrates and crayfish appeared to be important during winter. Our findings suggest that terrestrial organisms are more important than aquatic organisms in sustaining brook trout populations. Further, certain large and abundant terrestrial taxa are critical in providing energy to brook trout.


Brook trout Feeding ecology Terrestrial input Prey 



The authors thank Brett Moore for his extensive field and laboratory assistance. This study was funded by Mead-Westvaco, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, and the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s Monongahela National Forest and Northeastern Experiment Station. Care and handling of all fish was completed in accordance with approved protocols filed with the West Virginia University Animal Care and Use Committee.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wildlife and Fisheries Resources Program, Division of Forestry and Natural ResourcesDavis College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Consumer SciencesMorgantownUSA
  2. 2.Appalachian LaboratoryUniversity of MarylandFrostburgUSA

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