Biology, Management, and Culture of Walleye and Sauger

Chapter 8: Feeding Ecology and Energetics

Steven R. Chipps and Brian D. S. Graeb


Successful management of walleye and sauger populations often requires a detailed knowledge of prey resources. As with many fishes, diets of juvenile Sander spp. are often different than those of adult fish and can have important implications for growth and survival. Similarly, spatial and temporal variation in diet composition can contribute to variation in growth and production of Sander populations. Thus, management efforts (e.g., stocking) aimed at enhancing walleye and sauger populations benefit from the knowledge and tools to effectively quantify feeding patterns.

Today, fisheries managers face a myriad of challenges posed by nonnative species, eutrophication, climate change, and water availability, to name just a few. As a result, knowledge about prey use, energetics, and effects of Sander populations on food web structure has increased dramatically in the last 30 years. Experimental work with larval and juvenile walleyes has provided new insights into factors affecting growth and survival during early life stages (see Chapter 7) that has benefitted management and propagation efforts. Similarly, contemporary analytical approaches, such as bioenergetics modeling and stable isotope analysis, have improved our understanding of walleye foraging behavior and provided new tools for exploring trophic interactions. In this chapter, we review the general feeding ecology of walleye and sauger and highlight contemporary approaches for quantifying energy acquisition and trophic interactions.