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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Diet, stable isotopes and morphology of Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis) in littoral and pelagic habitats in the northern Baltic Proper

Mustamaki, N.; Cederberg, T.; Mattila, J.


We present morphology, stable isotope signals and stomach contents of Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis) from littoral and pelagic habitats in a brackish water embayment in the northern Baltic Proper. Studies conducted in freshwater habitats repeatedly state that littoral perch have deeper bodies than the pelagic ones. In this study we observed the opposite; the perch from the pelagic study site had deeper bodies than the littoral ones, indicating that more factors than habitat structure affect the perch morphology. A possible explanation to this discrepancy is the diet choice; the pelagic perch in this study were more benthivorous than freshwater pelagic perch. Our results on stable isotope signals combined with the stomach contents also shed new light on the dietary preferences of perch. Perch is known to be a generalist predatory fish, but our results indicate that perch have individual diet preferences. Based on our results, it seems that at some point in their lives the perch in brackish water choose between the littoral and pelagic habitats and also specialise in a certain diet. This study shows that the perch morphology and diet in the Baltic Sea coast differ among habitats, but the patterns are not similar to those observed in freshwater studies.


Resource polymorphism; Individual specialisation; Body depth; Stomach contents; Brackish water

Published in

Environmental Biology of Fishes
2014, Volume: 97, number: 6, pages: 675-689

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