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Increasing turbidity significantly alters the diet of brown trout: a multi‐year longitudinal study

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The stomach contents of adult brown trout Salmo trutta from Lake Sorell, Tasmania, were analysed during 6 years of increasing turbidity to follow changes in the diet associated with dramatic changes in water clarity. Brown trout were sampled from 1996, when turbidity was 26 NTU, to 2001 when turbidity was 141 NTU. The mean relative volume of stomach contents decreased progressively to 2001, by which time it was only one sixth of that in 1996, and the mean diversity of prey in stomachs decreased from an average of more than six species per stomach in 1996 to one species in 2001. The species composition of stomach contents shifted from domination by the phreatoicid isopod Colubotelson sp., to the galaxiid fish Galaxias auratus and the amphipod Austrochiltonia australis, and then the cladoceran Daphnia carinata. To give an indication of diet changes over a typical yearly cycle in the current turbid state of the lake, a sample was taken from each season from December 2000 to September 2001. Two basic diets were found during the year; brown trout specialized on D. carinata in summer and autumn, and G. auratus in winter and spring. Mean diversity of prey was less than two species per stomach in all samples from 2000 to 2001, except for the sample from spring 2001 when it was 2ยท2 species per stomach, and the mean relative volume of stomach contents was more than three times greater in winter than any other season. The ways in which high turbidity may have influenced the changes in the brown trout diet observed since 1996 and the patterns evident during the seasons of 2000–2001 are discussed.
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Keywords: Daphnia carinata; Galaxias auratus; Tasmanian lake; feeding; trophic adaptability

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 5, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia

Publication date: 2004-08-01

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