The diet of perch Perca fluviatilis was studied to reveal possible predation on vendace Coregonus albula larvae in an oligotrophic lake. Perch diet changed with the size of the fish: small perch ate mainly zooplankton and the diet shifted more to benthic invertebrates and fishes in larger perch. There were also annual and spatial differences in the diet, probably reflecting differences in the availability of prey animals. Perch predation on vendace larvae was only observed in the area with high availability of the larvae. The result suggested strengthened predation when the density of the larvae increases. According to bioenergetics modelling, the perch population increased natural mortality of vendace larvae only marginally. Food intake of spawning female perch was slightly reduced, whereas spawning males fed similarly to non-spawning males. Hence, the spawning period of perch was only a minor refuge for vendace larvae. Laboratory experiments of perch digestion rate demonstrated that, due to rapid digestion of the small fish larvae, diet sampling interval should not be >2 h in the field.
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