Biocomplexity at North Temperate Lakes LTER: Coordinated Field Studies: Large Mouth Bass Growth 2006
Lakeshore residential development is associated with changes in littoral habitat, riparian habitat, and ecosystem function with potential impacts ramifying through aquatic food webs. Effects of these changes on economically important game fishes may vary with fish size. We investigated largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) size-specific growth rates across 16 lakes spanning the range of lakeshore residential development in Wisconsin’s Northern Highland Lake District using a longitudinal multilevel model. Growth rates of small fish had a strong positive relationship with lakeshore residential development. The strength of the relationship decreased with length and became increasingly negative for fish longer than 210 mm. This pattern may be driven by a release from density-dependent growth, shifts in available prey sources, reduced macrophyte cover, or angling-induced selection pressures. Regardless of the mechanism, our results indicate, relative to undeveloped lakes, largemouth bass in highly developed lakes take 1.5 growing seasons longer to enter the fishery (356 mm).
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #DEB-2025982, NTL LTER. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.