Early Life Stage Mortality Syndrome in Fishes of the Great Lakes and Baltic Sea

Thiamine Levels in Food Chains of the Great Lakes

J. D. Fitzsimons, S. B. Brown, and L. Vandenbyllaardt

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569087.ch10

Abstract.—Thiamine concentrations in representative Great Lakes prey fish, including alewives Alosa pseudoharengus, rainbow smelt Osmerus mordax, slimy sculpin Cottus cognatus, bloater chub Coregonus hoyi, and lake herring Coregonus artedi, and their major dietary items, including mysids Mysis relicta, amphipods Diporeia hoyi, and net macroplankton, were measured to assess their potential involvement in depressed thiamine concentrations in lake trout Salvelinus namaycush of the Great Lakes. Mean thiamine concentrations in all biota were greater than the recommended dietary intake of 3.3 nmol/g for prevention of effects on growth, although the adequacy of these concentrations for reproduction is not known. Mean thiamine concentrations decreased in the order alewives > bloater chub, herring > smelt and differed from the order of associated egg thiamine concentrations published for lake trout feeding on these species (herring > alewives, smelt). As a result, these data strongly implicate the high thiaminase content, rather than the low thiamine content, of alewives and smelt as being responsible for the low egg thiamine concentrations of Great Lakes lake trout stocks that feed heavily on these species. Variations in thiamine content among prey species did not appear to be related to levels in their diet, because thiamine concentrations in Mysis, Diporeia, and macroplankton showed little consistency between group or between lake variation. There was no lake to lake variation in mean thiamine concentrations of prey species, but considerable within species variation occurred that was unrelated to size.