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The natural reproduction of lake trout Salvelinus namaycush in Lake Michigan is thought to be compromised by nutritional deficiency associated with inadequate levels of thiamine (vitamin B1) in their eggs. However, mortality driven by thiamine deficiency (commonly referred to as early mortality syndrome [EMS]) is not the only significant cause of low lake trout survival at early life stages. In this study, we sought to better understand the combined effects of variable levels of thiamine and fatty acids in lake trout eggs on prehatch, posthatch, and swim-up-stage mortality. We sampled the eggs of 29 lake trout females from southwestern Lake Michigan. The concentrations of free thiamine and its vitamers (e.g., thiamine monophosphate [TMP] and thiamine pyrophosphate [TPP]) as well as fatty acid profiles were determined in sampled eggs. Fertilized eggs and embryos were monitored through the advanced swim-up stage (1,000degree-days). Three distinct periods of mortality were identified: prehatch (0–400 degree-days), immediately posthatch (401–600 degree-days), and swim-up (601–1,000 degree-days). Stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed (1) that cis-7-hexadecenoic acid in both neutral lipids (NL) and phospholipids (PL) correlated with prehatch mortality, (2) that docosapentaenoic acid in PL and docosahexaenoic acid in NL correlated with posthatch mortality, and (3) that total lipids, TPP, and palmitoleic acid in NL, linoleic acid, and palmitic acid in PL correlated with the frequency of EMS. These results indicate the complexity of early life stage mortality in lake trout and suggest that inadequate levels of key fatty acids in eggs, along with variable thiamine content, contribute to the low survival of lake trout progeny in Lake Michigan.

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Rinchard, J., Czesny, S., Dettmers, J.M., and Dabrowski, K. 2009. "Linking Egg Thiamine and Fatty Acid Concentrations of Lake Michigan Lake Trout with Early Life Stage Mortality." Journal of Aquatic Animal Health 21(4): 262-271.