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Research article2010Peer reviewedOpen access

Habitat selectivity of substrate-spawning fish: modelling requirements for the Eurasian perch Perca fluviatilis

Snickars, Martin; Sundblad, Goran; Sandstrom, Alfred; Ljunggren, Lars; Bergstrom, Ulf; Johansson, Gustav; Mattila, Johanna


Substrate spawning fish are believed to be selective in their choice of spawning habitat, yet few studies have shown the relative importance of different characteristics in terms of habitat quality. We used an extensive and detailed dataset to identify the factors that govern both large-scale (10(3) to 10(5) m) and local-scale (10(1) to 10(2) m) selection by a substrate-spawning fish, the Eurasian perch Perca fluviatilis L. Distribution of spawning habitat was strongly dependent on habitat characteristics defined by substrate, wave exposure, temperature and depth. The most important predictor was the type of spawning substrate, which generally consisted of different types of vegetation. Substrates providing rigidity and structural complexity were preferred, despite abundant presence of other substrate types. Shallow depth and sheltered areas were also selected habitat characteristics. The response to temperature was scale-dependent, with a stronger selection expressed at the local scale. The specific selectivity suggests that spawning patterns can be successfully modelled with sufficient detail using only a few fundamental environmental variables. Wave exposure and depth are readily available for large-scale spatial predictions, while temperature and substrate require further development in most coastal areas. The high specificity of the characteristics determining habitat quality suggests that it should be possible to apply this modelling approach for identification and conservation of spawning habitats of Eurasian perch and other substrate-spawning fishes in coastal waters.


Habitat modelling; Nursery areas; Large-scale maps; Macrophytes; Behaviour; Oviposition; Generalised additive model; GAM

Published in

Marine Ecology Progress Series
2010, Volume: 398, pages: 235-243
Publisher: Inter Research

          UKÄ Subject classification

          Fish and Aquacultural Science

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