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Identification of Michigan Fishes Using Cleithra
Daniel J. Traynor1, Ashley H. Moerke2, Roger W. Greil2
1 Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Marquette Fisheries Research
Station, 484 Cherry Creek Rd., Marquette, MI 49855
2Aquatic Research Laboratory, Lake Superior State University, 650 W.
Easterday Ave., Sault Sainte. Marie, MI 49783
Diet analyses are a tool commonly used by fisheries managers to determine feeding habits and food web interactions of aquatic organisms. Many different methods are used to identify and quantify diets of piscivores, but each method has unique advantages and disadvantages. There are several characteristic bony structures which can be used to identify partially digested fish, including otoliths, vertebrae, opercles, and cleithra. In our diet studies cleithra have been the most useful structures for identifying partially digested fish, yet little information exists on how to identify fish with this structure and currently there are no published cleithra identification guides. Diet studies are becoming an increasingly more frequently used tool by fisheries managers as mortality sources for fish and foodweb shifts are experienced with ecosystem changes in the Great Lakes. Thus, we expect this guide to be highly valuable for academic and agency staff for identifying fish in stomach contents.