Predation by brown trout: a major mortality factor for sexually mature European minnows

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Brown trout Salmo trutta in the subalpine lake, Øvre Heimdalsvatn, showed large temporal variation in the rate of predation on the introduced minnow Phoxinus phoxinus population. Minnows were found in the stomachs of brown trout between 16 and 38 cm LT. Significantly greater predation was recorded shortly after ice break at the end of June 1999, with frequencies of 9 and 20% within the LT classes 16–29·9 cm and  ≥30 cm, respectively. Predation on minnows was only occasionally detected during July, August and September. The high level of predation coincided with minnow spawning, and lengths of consumed minnows were equal to those of sexually mature individuals. Accepting a causal link between minnow spawning, which lasted c. 3 weeks, and the contemporary high rate of predation, the estimated annual consumption of minnows by the brown trout population would be 138 kg wet mass. Although most of the annual consumption of minnows by brown trout (90%) occurred within a very short period (3 weeks), it accounted for a significant proportion (60%) of the annual loss in biomass of the sexually mature part of the population.

Keywords: Phoxinus phoxinus; Salmo trutta; mortality; predation; spawning

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Department of Biology and Nature Conservation, Agricultural University of Norway, P. O. Box 5014, N-1432 Ås, Norway and

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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