We experimentally tested the hypotheses that bluegills in vegetated habitats grow more rapidly than in nonvegetated habitats because (1) vegetated habitats contain a greater caloric density and (2) are less susceptible to energetic depletion. The 10-week experiment was conducted in enclosures containing factorial combinations of the presence or absence of Vallisneria americana and juvenile bluegills Lepomis macrochirus. After 6 weeks, Vallisneria-only treatments contained a mean of 1048 cal/m2 in the benthos, whereas treatments with both Vallisneria and bluegills contained 610 cal/m2. Hyalella azteca, a preferred prey of bluegill, were nearly depleted in nonvegetated enclosures, whereas Hyalella densities in enclosures with Vallisneria were much less effected by fish. Bluegill growth was significantly greater with Vallisneria than without but declining water temperatures after week 6 resulted in slower growth despite abundant prey. Ultimately, growth of bluegill resulted from an interaction between availability and ingestion of prey, and water temperature. ?? Munksgaard, 1998.
Additional publication details
Bioenergetic relations in submerged aquatic vegetation: An experimental test of prey use by juvenile bluegills