Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 169–178 | Cite as

Selective Feeding of age-0 Arctic Grayling in Lake-Outlet Streams of the Northwest Territories, Canada

  • Nicholas E. Jones
  • William M. Tonn
  • Garry J. Scrimgeour


A paucity of information exists on the diet of Arctic grayling, Thymallus arcticus, particularly for young-of-the-year (YOY). We examined the diet of YOY Arctic grayling in relation to food availability, in the Barrenlands region of the Northwest Territories, Canada, where lake-outlet streams serve as nursery habitat for these fish. Given the small size of YOY grayling and the abundance of lake-derived microcrustacea in the drift of these lake-outlet streams, we anticipated that these prey would make up a major component of the YOY's diet. Food selectivity by YOY grayling, however, was strongly sized-biased; although microcrustacea dominated the drift, YOY primarily consumed larger taxa, especially Chironomidae and Simuliidae. Even among these taxa, grayling tended to select the larger individuals. As they grew, YOY grayling took larger numbers of both large and small prey, particularly the larger invertebrates, although prey size range did not change after mid-July. Selection of pupae and avoidance of Ephemeroptera suggest that prey characteristics other than size also contribute to selectivity by YOY grayling. The relatively limited consumption of terrestrial invertebrates and other large prey may reflect the small sizes of fish in this arctic study, as well as differences in prey availability. Despite the abundance of lake-derived prey, instream production of invertebrates should largely determine the productive capacity of Barrenlands streams as fish habitat.

drifting invertebrates stomach contents preference prey size tundra lake-outlet 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas E. Jones
    • 1
  • William M. Tonn
    • 1
  • Garry J. Scrimgeour
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Alberta Conservation AssociationEdmontonCanada

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