Jordan Ludwigson

The Bluegill
Lepomis macrochirus

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      Living in Freshwater Everywhere...and Saltwater Somewhere?  

The Range of a Bluegill

Bluegills are accustomed to living in a variety of aquaChesapeake Bay Watershed (Retrieved From: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chesapeake_Bay_Watershed.gif)tic habitats.  They are native to central and eastern North America.  However, stocking programs and other forms of intended and unintended transplants have allowed Lepomis macrochirus to inhabit waters throughout the United States and Mexico.  Within this broad range, lakes, streams, rivers, and bays are all suitable habitats.  Interestingly enough, bluegills have been found in Chesapeake Bay.  This suggests that they can tolerate 18% salinity! (Parr, 2002).

Water Preference of Lepomis macrochirus           

Bluegill Habitat (Retrieved From: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lake_Smekhro.JPG)Bluegills prefer to live in warm, clear water that is between 60F-80F (Rook, 1999).  These conditions provide the highest rate of growth and reproductive success. Unfortunately, waters seldom stay within this temperature range.  Nevertheless, bluegills can survive in temperatures between 35F-105F (Mills, 2004).  At the same time, they have a preference to stay near rooted vegetation and silt, sand, or gravel bottoms.  In non-reproductive months, bluegills have a home range of about 30 square meters (Parr, 2002).  During cooler morning hours, they stay near the water’s surface to stay warm.  While they enjoy the heat, this species does not tend to stay in direct sunlight; therefore, it travels to deeper water for most of the daylight hours.  For instance, in a small lake, a particular bluegill may stay near shore overnight and travel to deeper parts of the lake after the sun rises.   Still, they must fulfill other essential interactions within their niche.  

Check out other facts about bluegills here:
http://www.rook.org/earl/bwca/nature/fish/lepomismac.html

      Biotic Components of Bluegill Habitat     

Bluegills generally stay in a school of 10-20 fishes  (Holtan, 1990)Northern Pike Trolling for Prey (Retrieved From: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Esox_Lucius.JPG) This school may include bluegills and other species.  Pumpkinseeds and smallmouth bass have similar habitat requirements; thus, they are often found within the same school as bluegills.  Nutritional requirements cause these schools to stay near sources of algae, zooplankton, and aquatic insects.  While bluegills consume some species within their niche, they are prey items for larger species.  For example, northern pike troll weed beds to search for schools of sunfish species.

 


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