Body size of consumer species is a fundamental trait that influences the trophic ecology of individuals and their contribution to the functioning of freshwater ecosystems. However, the relationship between body size and trophic ecology can be highly variable both within and between closely-related and similarly-sized species. In this study we compared the intra- and interspecific relationship between body size and trophic position for North American Yellow Perch Perca flavescens and European Perch Perca fluviatilis, which share similarities in morphology, life history traits and trophic requirements. We used stable isotope ratios (δ15N and δ13C) to characterize differences in size-dependency of trophic position and to trace consumer foraging history of Yellow Perch in lakes in the Northwestern United States and European Perch in lakes in Germany. The trophic position and stable isotope ratios of Yellow Perch and European Perch steadily increased with total body length, but European Perch were consistently feeding at higher trophic positions than Yellow Perch at a given length. European Perch occupied considerably higher trophic positions (mean trophic position = 3.9) than Yellow Perch (mean trophic position = 2.8). Large European Perch were increasingly piscivorous, whereas large Yellow Perch were more opportunistic and omnivorous predators of invertebrate prey. Overall, the trophic position among individual Yellow Perch varied more strongly than in European Perch. We conclude that both species similarly increase in trophic position with size, but the specific size-dependency of both trophic position and resource use varies with taxonomy and local ecological conditions. Thus, body size as a sole measure of trophic position should be considered cautiously when generalizing across populations and species.
Size-dependent foraging niches of European Perch Perca fluviatilis (Linnaeus, 1758) and North American Yellow Perch Perca flavescens (Mitchill, 1814)
Linzmaier, S. M., Twardochleb, L. A., Olden, J. D., Mehner, T., Arlinghaus, R. (2018). Size-dependent foraging niches of European Perch Perca fluviatilis (Linnaeus, 1758) and North American Yellow Perch Perca flavescens (Mitchill, 1814). Environmental Biology of Fishes, 101, 23–37
Erschienen in: Environmental Biology of Fishes, 101, 23–37