Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Wildlife and Fisheries Resources

Committee Chair

Stuart A. Welsh

Committee Co-Chair

Kyle J. Hartman

Committee Member

David I. Wellman


This thesis evaluates population characteristics of yellow perch ( Perca flavescens) in Cheat Lake, West Virginia, and is comprised of two chapters: 1) an introduction and literature review on the biology, ecology, and life history of yellow perch and studies regarding diet growth, and condition and 2) a study examining age and length, summer diet composition, and growth of yellow perch in Cheat Lake, West Virginia. Owing partly to recent mitigation of acidic conditions in the Cheat River watershed, populations of yellow perch and other fishes have increased in Cheat Lake. For this study, I evaluated age and length, summer diet composition, and growth for Cheat Lake yellow perch, providing useful information for management of the fishery. The sample (n=271) included individuals of a wide range of ages (0--9) and sizes (66--320 mm). Gender-specific differences in growth rate were observed beginning at Age-2. Females grew faster and attained larger maximum sizes than males. An information theoretic approach was taken to evaluate the applicability of various growth models. Four candidate models (von Bertalanffy, Gompertz, logistic, and power) were fitted to mean length-at-age data. The von Bertalanffy growth model was selected by AICc as the best approximating model, and data also provided some evidence supporting the Gompertz model. A combination of quantitative methods and multivariate statistics were used to evaluate differences in summer diet composition among Age-0, Age-1, and Age-2+ individuals. Ontogenetic diet shifts were observed. Zooplankton (primarily Copepods) was identified from all Age-0 individuals. Trichoptera and Chironomidae were the most important prey items for Age-1 yellow perch. Fishes were identified among the stomach contents from 41.5% of all Age-2+ individuals. Cheat Lake is one of a few reservoirs in West Virginia that supports a yellow perch fishery, and fishery-independent data from this study represent the first comprehensive assessment of this fishery. Baseline data for management and future stock assessments were provided by this investigation.