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Determinants of habitat use in large roach

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In this study gillnet catches of large roach Rutilus rutilus and their potential predators, large perch Perca fluviatilis, pikeperch Sander lucioperca and pike Esox lucius, in combination with data on food resources and abiotic variables were used to reveal the variables influencing the habitat use of large roach in Lake Großer Vätersee. The occurrence of large roach was negatively coupled with the occurrence of potential predators. Although almost all roach studied were larger than those actually fed on by the predators, high roach catches never coincided with high predator catches. Since the overall habitat-specific distribution of roach and its predators was nevertheless highly similar, this indicated that large roach obviously avoided the immediate vicinity of the predators without being forced to a full habitat shift. The behavioural response to predators of roach in Lake Großer Vätersee was clearly length dependent, since the patterns of diel habitat use differed between large and small roach. For lake-wide estimates of trophic interactions, size groups of prey should be separated, since size-dependent trait changes may impact habitat-specific resources in a contrasting way.
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Keywords: activity; diel patterns; habitat use; predation; resources; roach

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Biology and Ecology of Fishes, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, P. O. Box 850119, D-12561 Berlin, Germany

Publication date: 01 October 2006

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