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Effect of wave exposure dynamics on gut content mass and growth of young-of-the-year fishes in the littoral zone of lakes

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Total length, body mass and gut content mass of young-of-the-year (YOY) perch Perca fluviatilis, dace Leuciscus leuciscus and bleak Alburnus alburnus were recorded over the summer of 2006 at three littoral sites at Upper Lake Constance. In P. fluviatilis and L. leuciscus, gut content mass correlated positively with wave-induced energy flux (EF) of the respective site and sampling day, while no correlation of gut content mass with EF was found in A. alburnus. It was assumed that benthivorous P. fluviatilis and L. leuciscus profited from suspended or uncovered benthic food items generated by wave action at sites and periods with high EF. Alburnus alburnus, in contrast, feeding mainly on zooplankton in upper parts of the water column, could not profit from increased EF. In P. fluviatilis, increased gut content mass during periods of high EF resulted in higher growth rates. For L. leuciscus, no real growth rates in local fish populations could be determined, as individuals were less sedentary, and when increased growth occurred at sites during the periods of high EF, migration of fish levelled out the resulting size differences within few days. The results of this study show that dynamic habitat variables affect site profitability in the littoral zone of lakes, especially in benthivorous fishes. Therefore, dynamic habitat variables should be considered in addition to fixed habitat properties in analyses of habitat choice of fishes in the littoral zone of lakes.

Keywords: Alburnus alburnus; Leuciscus leuciscus; Perca fluviatilis; dynamic habitat factor; foraging success; wave-energy flux

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Limnological Institute, University of Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany 2: Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, Kurpromenade 201, 27498 Helgoland, Germany

Publication date: May 1, 2010


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