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Piscivory and trophic position of Anguilla anguilla in two lakes: importance of macrozoobenthos density

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The feeding habits of the European eel Anguilla anguilla (>300 mm total length, LT) were compared in two lakes of different environmental state: Lake Großer Vätersee (LGV), Germany (clear water, mesotrophic and submerged macrophytes), and Lake Vallum (LV), Denmark (turbid, eutrophic and no submerged macrophytes). The density of macrozoobenthos was higher in LV (3500 individuals m−2) than in LGV (1500 individuals m−2). The abundance of small prey fishes (40–99 mm LT) was highest in LV. In LV, A. anguilla fed on macrozoobenthos, in particular, chironomid larvae. In LGV, A. anguilla used fishes as the main food component. Stable isotope analyses confirmed the stomach contents dietary results. The estimated mean ±s.d. trophic positions of A. anguilla in LGV (3·7 ± 0·2) was one level higher than those of fish in LV (2·7 ± 0·2). Based on these results, it is concluded that piscivory among A. anguilla was generally controlled by the density of macrozoobenthos. Stable isotope analysis further indicated that A. anguilla may act as integrators between benthic and pelagic food webs when density of insect larvae is low.

Keywords: fish; lakes; predation; prey; stable isotopes

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: DTU AQUA, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Vejlsøvej 39, DK-8600 Silkeborg, Denmark

Publication date: June 1, 2009


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