The foraging activity of large-bodied benthivorous fish has been suggested to be of key importance for maintaining shallow lakes in a turbid state. Since especially the spring ecosystem dynamics determines the successive state of shallow lakes, such impact could depend on seasonality in benthivore activity patterns. However, we do not yet know to what extent the activity of large-bodied benthivorous fish affects lake turbidity across the year. In order to investigate seasonal dynamics in bream activity and its impact on water turbidity under natural conditions, bream daily activity was studied in a small (39 ha) shallow Danish lake using passive biotelemetry technology, i.e. a modified Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT)-tag antenna system. We tracked the activity of 448 benthivorous bream over a period of four years (2012 to 2016) and during the same period wind conditions, water turbidity and temperature was measured. Results showed a clear relationship between bream activity and water turbidity at water temperature below 15°C indicating that winter season activity of benthivorous bream may play an important role for maintaining lake ecosystems in a turbid state. Also wind speed and wind direction affected water turbidity, suggesting that wind induced resuspension can be important even in small shallow lakes. This is to our knowledge the first full-scale study under natural conditions to describe how bream activity influence lake turbidity on a day-to-day basis. Our findings also add a seasonal component to previous findings by showing that benthivorous feeding bream have the potential to increase water turbidity also in the winter season and thereby, ultimately, impact ecosystem functioning within shallow lakes.
- Ecosystem engineers
- Foraging activity