Encountering a bait is necessary but insufficient to explain individual variability in vulnerability to angling in two freshwater benthivorous fish in the wild

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Fish personality traits, such as swimming activity, or personality related emergent behavioural properties, such as the degree of space use shown by an individual fish, should affect encounter rates between individual fish and fishing gear. Increased encounters should in turn drive vulnerability to capture by passively operated gears. However, empirical evidence documenting a relationship between activity-based behaviours and vulnerability to capture by passive fishing gear in the wild is limited. Using whole-lake acoustic telemetry, we first documented significant repeatabilities over several months in a suite of encounterrate-associated behaviours (swimming distance, activity space size, time on baited feeding sites, switching frequency among baited feeding sites, distance to the lake bottom) in two recreationally important benthivorous cyprinid species, the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and tench (Tinca tinca). We then experimentally targeted both species using stationary angling on baited feeding sites. Individual fish regularly visited the angling sites, documenting that the fishes encountered the angling baits. When attempting to explain individual variation in vulnerability as a function of repeatable behavioural traits, we found no evidence of a significant relationship among various encounter-based behaviours and vulnerability to angling for both species. There was also no evidence for size selection or for energetically less conditioned fish to be more vulnerable. The data cumulatively suggest that fine-scale behaviours after encountering a bait (e.g., frequency of bait intake) may be ultimately decisive for determining vulnerability to angling in benthivorous fish. Based on our work, fishing-induced selection on encounter-based behaviours in recreational angling for benthivorous fish in the wild appears unlikely.

Monk, C. T., Arlinghaus, R. (2017). Encountering a bait is necessary but insufficient to explain individual variability in vulnerability to angling in two freshwater benthivorous fish in the wild. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0173989


Veröffentlicht: 2017
Erschienen in: PLoS ONE 12(3): e0173989