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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Temperature- and light-dependent ratio of energy gain to metabolic costs explains spatial and temporal habitat use of zooplanktivorous fish

Beier, U


Understanding the forces that drive habitat selection of species in communities is important in both ecology and evolution. In nature, species face variation in competition, predation and physical characters among habitats. Vendace (Coregonus albula (L.)) is a specialised zooplanktivorous fish predominantly using deeper water in lakes during summer, while roach (Rutilus rutilus (L.)) uses mainly the shallow littoral zone as well as the upper layer of the pelagic zone. To understand mechanisms behind habitat use of these species, I first conducted a predation experiment to investigate their sensitivity to predation by perch (Perca fluviatilis L.). Second, I performed a foraging experiment using different temperature and light treatments. I then used metabolic calculations to estimate energetic costs when foraging. I found no difference between species regarding sensitivity to predation. Vendace was the most efficient forager on zooplankton but also swam faster spending more energy compared to roach. Roach had a comparatively high metabolic rate in the lowest temperature, where their foraging efficiency was lowest. The energy gain ratio at 6 degrees C was highest for vendace, while it was lowest for roach. In the highest temperature (18 degrees C) and the lowest light level (1lux), both species were similar in their energy gain ratio. The relative energy gain ratio provides a mechanism to explain habitat distribution for the two species. An increased understanding of the role of metabolism in combination with biotic interactions and habitat use may help to foresee effects of environmental change for different species.


competition; predation; metabolism; trade-off; zooplankton; Coregonus albula; Rutilus rutilus

Published in

Ecology of Freshwater Fish
2017, volume: 26, number: 4, pages: 506-516

Authors' information

Beier, Ulrika
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences
Fish and Aquacultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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