Gravel pit lakes are novel ecosystems that can be colonized by fish through natural or anthropogenic pathways. In central Europe, many of them are managed by recreational anglers and thus experience regular fish stocking. However, also unmanaged gravel pits may be affected by stocking, either through illegal fish introductions or, occasionally, by immigration from connected water bodies. We sampled 23 small (< 20 ha) gravel pitlakes (16 managed and 7 unmanaged) in north-western Germany using littoral electrofishing and multimesh gillnets. Our objective was to compare the fish biodiversity in gravel pit lakes in the presence or absence of recreational fisheries. Given the size of the sampled lakes, we expected species poor communities and elevated fish diversity in the managed systems due to regular stocking of game fish species. Our study lakes were primarily mesotrophic and did not differ in key abiotic and biotic environmental characteristics. Lakes of both management types hosted similar fish abundances and biomasses, but were substantially different in terms of fish community structure and species richness. Fish were present in all lakes, with a minimum of three species. Higher α-diversity and lower β-diversity was discovered in managed gravel pit lakes compared to unmanaged lakes. Consequently, recreational-fisheries management fostered homogenization of fish communities, by stocking a similar set of fish species desired by anglers such as piscivorous fish and large bodied cyprinids. However, unmanaged gravel pit lakes were also affected by human-mediated colonization, presumably by illegal fish releases. Hardly any non-native species were detected, suggesting that recreational-fisheries management did not foster the spread of exotic species in our study region.
Effect of recreational-fisheries management on fish biodiversity in gravel pit lakes, with contrasts to unmanaged lakes
Matern, S., Emmrich, M., Klefoth, T., Wolter, C., Nikolaus, R., Wegener, N., Arlinghaus, R. (2019). Effect of recreational-fisheries management on fish biodiversity in gravel pit lakes, with contrasts to unmanaged lakes. Journal of Fish Biology, 94, 865–881
Erschienen in: Journal of Fish Biology, 94, 865–881