Differences in Largemouth Bass Food Habits and Growth in Vegetated and Unvegetated North-central Florida Lakes

Stomachs of 5,818 largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) were examined from 10 north-central Florida lakes to determine differences in food habits of largemouth bass in lakes with abundant aquatic macrophytes (vegetated) and lakes nearly devoid of aquatic macrophytes (unvegetated). We found significant differences (P < 0.05) between stomach contents of 6 length groups of largemouth bass (range: 60-640 mm TL) from vegetated and unvegetated lakes. The 152- to 254-mm length group exhibited the greatest number of diet differences. Atherinids, decapods, and odonates were consumed more frequently (P < 0.05) by largemouth bass in vegetated lakes, while cichlids, clupeids, and dipterans were more common in the diet of largemouth bass from unvegetated lakes. Largemouth bass from unvegetated lakes were piscivorous by 60 mm TL; those from vegetated lakes did not become piscivorous until they were >120 mm TL. Largemouth bass were significantly larger (P < 0.05) in unvegetated lakes through age 3+ for females and age 4+ for males

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