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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 398:235-243 (2010)  -  DOI:

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

Martin Snickars1,*, Göran Sundblad2,3, Alfred Sandström4, Lars Ljunggren2, Ulf Bergström2, Gustav Johansson5, Johanna Mattila1

1Husö Biological Station, Environmental and Marine Biology, Åbo Akademi University, BioCity, PO Box 123, 20521 Turku, Finland
2Swedish Board of Fisheries, Institute of Coastal Research, Box 109, 74071 Öregrund, Sweden
3Department of Limnology, Evolutionary Biology Centre (EBC), Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, 75236 Uppsala, Sweden
4Swedish Board of Fisheries, Institute of Freshwater Research, Stångholmsvägen 2, 17893 Drottningholm, Sweden
5The Foundation for Uppland, Box 26074, 75026 Uppsala, Sweden

ABSTRACT: 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 (103 to 105 m) and local-scale (101 to 102 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.

KEY WORDS: Habitat modelling · Nursery areas · Large-scale maps · Macrophytes · Behaviour · Oviposition · Generalised additive model · GAM

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Cite this article as: Snickars M, Sundblad G, Sandström A, Ljunggren L, Bergström U, Johansson G, Mattila J (2010) Habitat selectivity of substrate-spawning fish: modelling requirements for the Eurasian perch Perca fluviatilis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 398:235-243.

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