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Feeding guilds and food resource partitioning in a lake fish assemblage: an ontogenetic approach

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Ontogenetic diet patterns and trophic guild structure of a 15 species temperate lake fish assemblage were analysed over wide size intervals (up to seven orders of magnitude in body mass), representing practically the whole life span in most species. A two-step objective clustering technique supplemented with other multivariate statistical tools proved that size-related diet changes clearly played an important role in structuring trophic organization of fishes inhabiting Lake Balaton. As many as 13 out of the 15 fish species showed marked size-related dietary changes with two to four ontogenetic feeding stages. At the assemblage level, 11 trophic guilds were separated. Guild membership was size-dependent in 11 fish species that participated in two to four trophic guilds during their life span. The most complex trophic ontogeny was observed in roach Rutilus rutilus and asp Aspius aspius with four guild memberships. This study showed that trophic status of fishes may be very size-sensitive and thus a universal classification of fish species to general trophic guilds, such as ‘planktivore’, ‘benthivore’, ‘piscivore’ or ‘herbivore’, should be applied very carefully even in environmental monitoring and fisheries management applications, unless it is supported by relevant results of life span diet analyses.
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Keywords: Lake Balaton; diet partitioning; ontogenetic diet shift; size-dependent interactions; trophic guild

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Hydrobiology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Debrecen, Egyetem tér 1., H-4032, Debrecen, Hungary

Publication date: 2009-07-01

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