Predator fish populations: The impact of behavioural and physical-biological parameters (38267)

Project Details


Some of the mechanisms guiding the interactions of fish species in clear water lakes seems to act differently in turbid water, thus more knowledge of these relationships are essential. Both in order to understand how the fish population in a lake will develop when the lake is about to change to a clear water state, but also in order to understand the stability of predator fish populations under various environmental conditions.

One of the important related issues can be the capability of predator fish, to hunt in turbid water and the interactions of more predator fish species. The capacity of pike and large perch to hunt in turbid water was tested in extensive pond experiments with different clay turbidity, including also the importance of prey fish density.

The experimental approach was supplemented by parallel radio telemetry field studies of both predator species, in order to explain the role of behaviour and the importance for the natural composition of fish populations in turbid and clear water lakes. Pond experiments showed that pike were perfectly able to hunt in turbid water, backed up by the field findings of higher activity levels for some pike in the turbid lake, however in general with a larger variation in behavioural strategy in turbid water.

Surprisingly, perch were also capable of hunting in very low turbidity at least in high prey fish densities. The telemetry study showed two alternative behavioural patterns of perch in clear water and turbid water, perch being more active in the turbid water on a diel basis including at night and not showing any sunrise and sunset peaks in activity as was seen in the clear water lake.

The alternative strategy in the turbid lake might be interpreted as a means of allocating more time for hunting due to visual constraints. Contemporary studies on prey fish behaviour in the study lakes also revealed different behaviours on a diel basis dependent on turbidity, which can be linked to predator fish behaviour.

Two peer-reviewed papers and a master thesis were published on pike-behaviour as well as two peer-reviewed papers on perch behaviour. Results were presented on international and national conferences.

The project was coordinated by DTU Aqua and funded by the Danish Rod and Net Fishing License Funds.

Research area: Freshwater Fisheries and Ecology
Effective start/end date01/01/200530/06/2016