Activity and food choice of piscivorous perch ( Perca fluviatilis ) in a eutrophic shallow lake: a radio-telemetry study

Lene Jacobsen, Søren Berg, M. Broberg, Niels Jepsen, Christian Skov

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1. Radio transmitters were implanted in large perch (27-37 cm) in a shallow lake in Denmark. Between 6 and 13 perch were tracked every 3 h for 24-h periods twice (summer) or once a month (winter) from August 1997 to July 1998. Activity levels were recorded as minimum distance moved per hour. 2. No significant differences in activity levels of individual fish were observed. 3. Highest activities were observed at daytime with peaks at dawn and dusk or midday. This diel pattern was most pronounced from October to April, whereas diel variations were less in the summer months, with no peaks occurring in midsummer. The general lack of activity at night supports the idea that perch is a visually oriented forager. 4. There was no significant relationship between daytime activity during the year and temperature or day length, but nighttime activity was correlated with temperature. In contrast with previous findings, activity levels varied little seasonally, except for high activity levels that occurred concomitantly with high temperatures in August. Instead, we found a significant relationship between the total distances moved per day and temperature, indicating that perch moved at the same average speed in the wintertime, but did so for shorter periods than in summer because of shorter day lengths. 5. Diet of the tagged perch shifted from fish dominance between August and January to invertebrates from February to June. There was no correlation between the diet shift and activity levels, indicating that feeding on invertebrate requires similar activity levels as predation on fish. 6. The results of this telemetry study throughout a year suggest that perch are more active during the winter than previously inferred from gill-net catches. This observation underscores the importance of perch as a predator of 0+ planktivorous fish in lakes and has potential implications for pelagic food web structure and lake management by biomanipulation
Original languageEnglish
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)2370-2379
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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