Data from: Age, growth and fall diet of channel catfish in Cheat Lake, West Virginia
Hilling, Corbin et al. (2016), Data from: Age, growth and fall diet of channel catfish in Cheat Lake, West Virginia, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.8583t
Acidification has historically impaired Cheat Lake's fish community, but recent mitigation efforts within the Cheat River watershed have improved water quality and species richness. Presently, channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus are abundant and attain desirable sizes for anglers. We evaluated the age, growth and fall diet of the population. A sample of 155 channel catfish was collected from Cheat Lake from 5 August to 4 December 2014, a subsample of which was aged (n = 148) using lapillus otoliths. Four growth models (von Bertalanffy, logistic, Gompertz and power) were fit to length at age data and compared using an information theoretic approach. Fall diets were collected from 55 fish sampled from 13 October to 4 December 2014. Total lengths of individuals in the sample ranged from 154-721 mm and ages ranged from 2-19 years. The von Bertalanffy growth model was AICc -selected as the best approximating model, and the power and Gompertz models also had considerable support. Diets were numerically dominated by Diptera larvae, specifically Chironomidae and Chaoboridae, while 39% of stomachs contained terrestrial food items. This study provides baseline data for management of Cheat Lake's channel catfish population. Further, this study fills a knowledge gap in the scientific literature on channel catfish, as few published studies have examined the population ecology of channel catfish in the Central Appalachian region.