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Piscivore-Prey Fish Interactions: Mechanisms behind Diurnal Patterns in Prey Selectivity in Brown and Clear Water.

  • Lynn Ranåker
  • Jens Persson
  • Mikael Jönsson
  • Anders Nilsson
  • Christer Brönmark
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Publication/Series: PLoS ONE
Volume: 9
Issue: 11
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Public Library of Science

Abstract english

Environmental change may affect predator-prey interactions in lakes through deterioration of visual conditions affecting foraging success of visually oriented predators. Environmental change in lakes includes an increase in humic matter causing browner water and reduced visibility, affecting the behavioural performance of both piscivores and prey. We studied diurnal patterns of prey selection in piscivorous pikeperch (Sander lucioperca) in both field and laboratory investigations. In the field we estimated prey selectivity and prey availability during day and night in a clear and a brown water lake. Further, prey selectivity during day and night conditions was studied in the laboratory where we manipulated optical conditions (humic matter content) of the water. Here, we also studied the behaviours of piscivores and prey, focusing on foraging-cycle stages such as number of interests and attacks by the pikeperch as well as the escape distance of the prey fish species. Analyses of gut contents from the field study showed that pikeperch selected perch (Perca fluviatilis) over roach (Rutilus rutilus) prey in both lakes during the day, but changed selectivity towards roach in both lakes at night. These results were corroborated in the selectivity experiments along a brown-water gradient in day and night light conditions. However, a change in selectivity from perch to roach was observed when the optical condition was heavily degraded, from either brown-stained water or light intensity. At longer visual ranges, roach initiated escape at distances greater than pikeperch attack distances, whereas perch stayed inactive making pikeperch approach and attack at the closest range possible. Roach anti-predatory behaviour decreased in deteriorated visual conditions, altering selectivity patterns. Our results highlight the importance of investigating both predator and prey responses to visibility conditions in order to understand the effects of degrading optical conditions on piscivore-prey interaction strength and thereby ecosystem responses to brownification of waters.


  • Ecology
  • Zoology


  • ISSN: 1932-6203
Anders Nilsson
E-mail: anders [dot] nilsson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Aquatic ecology

+46 46 222 83 65

+46 70 346 25 66



Research group

Aquatic Ecology


Doctoral students and postdocs

Main supervisor

Varpu Pärssinen

Assistant supervisor

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