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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 359:275-281 (2008)  -  DOI:

Foraging, growth and habitat choice in turbid water: an experimental study with fish larvae in the Baltic Sea

Jonna Engström-Öst1,2,*, Johanna Mattila3

1Finnish Institute of Marine Research, PO Box 2 (Erik Palméns plats 1), 00561 Helsingfors, Finland
2Aronia Coastal Research Team at Sydväst University of Applied Sciences and Åbo Akademi University, Raseborgsvägen 9,
10600 Ekenäs, Finland
3Husö Biological Station & Environmental and Marine Biology, Åbo Akademi University, Akademigatan 1,
20500 Åbo, Finland

ABSTRACT: Eutrophication is a large problem in many marine and brackish-water areas. One of the consequences is algae-induced turbidity affecting visually feeding organisms, and behavioural changes of fish and other animals are common in turbid water. The aim of this study was to compare the performance of larval pike Esox lucius in turbid and clear water. We experimentally studied habitat choice, prey attacks and swimming activity of newly hatched larvae in the presence of a predator and competitors in relation to algae-induced turbidity. Our results demonstrated that the larvae spent less time in vegetation, performed more prey attacks and spent less time swimming in turbid water than in clear conditions. The presence of competitors increased the number of prey attacks, while the presence of a visual predator decreased the number of attacks. We also showed that pike larval weight was lower in high turbidity than in low turbidity. Our results show that algae-induced water turbidity affects both direct (i.e. feeding and habitat choice) and indirect qualities (i.e. weight) of pike larvae and may therefore affect larval survival and potentially even recruitment into the population.

KEY WORDS: Turbidity · Pike larvae · Habitat choice · Prey attacks · Growth · Shelter · Perception of threat

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Cite this article as: Engström-Öst J, Mattila J (2008) Foraging, growth and habitat choice in turbid water: an experimental study with fish larvae in the Baltic Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 359:275-281.

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