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Piscivory and prey selection of four predator species in a whitefish dominated subarctic lake

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According to logistic regressions derived for pike Esox lucius and burbot Lota lota, the probability of ingesting fishes in Lake Muddusjärvi, northern Finland, was 50% at 19·3 and 22·1 cm LT, whereas Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus and brown trout Salmo trutta shifted to piscivory at the lengths of 25·7 and 26·4 cm LT. The specialist piscivores, pike and burbot, consumed more prey species and took a wider range of prey sizes than Arctic charr and brown trout. The prey length for all predators increased in relationship to predator length. Whitefish Coregonus lavaretus was the dominant prey species in the lake and in the diet of all the piscivorous species. The whitefish population was divided into three forms, of which the slow-growing, and the most numerous densely rakered whitefish form (DR), was selected by all predator species. This form also had the smallest average size and widest habitat range, utilizing both pelagic and epibenthic habitats. Two sparsely rakered whitefish forms (LSR and SSR) occupied only epibenthic habitats and had lower relative densities than DR. These forms, LSR and SSR, had a minor importance in the diet of predator species.

Keywords: piscivory; predator; prey selection; whitefish forms

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Department of Limnology and Environmental Protection, P. O. Box 65, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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