The type and extent of habitats along the shoreline specify the distribution of fish in the littoral zone of lakes, but effects are likely species and sizespecific and might be overwhelmed by lake-level environmental factors that drive fish abundance (e.g. trophic state). We applied a replicated transect-sampling design by electrofishing assessing fish abundance and distribution along the banks of 20 gravel pit lakes in Lower Saxony (Germany). Boosted regression trees were used to analyse the impact of different characteristic habitat types (e.g. vegetated, woody or open water zones), shoreline water depth and lakelevel environmental variables on species-specific fish abundances. In contrast to earlier studies, lake-level environment and transect-level habitat type similarly influenced the abundances of differently sized fish species in the littoral zone of gravel pit lakes. The abundance of almost all fish species increased with lake productivity and extent of structured littoral habitats, mostly following non-linear relationships. Our work suggests that investments into the quality of littoral habitat, and not merely the control of nutrient inputs or other lake-level environmental factors, can promote abundance of most gravel pit lake fish species, in particular those who depend on the littoral zone for at least part of their life-cycle.
Environmental determinants of fish abundance in the littoral zone of gravel pit lakes
Matern, S., Klefoth, T., Wolter, C., Arlinghaus, R. (2021). Environmental determinants of fish abundance in the littoral zone of gravel pit lakes. Hydrobiologia, 848, 2449-2471
Erschienen in : Hydrobiologia, 848, 2449-2471