Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in lakes reduces light penetration and limits fish production in low nutrient lakes, reportedly via reduced primary and secondary production. Alternatively, DOC and light reductions could influence fish by altering their visual feeding. Previous studies report mixed effects of DOC on feeding rates of zooplanktivorous fish, but most investigators tested effects of a single concentration of DOC against clear-water, turbid, or algal treatments. We used a controlled laboratory study to quantify the effects of a DOC gradient (3–19 mg L−1) on average light climate and the zooplankton feeding rate of 3 common, north temperate fishes. Light availability, which was inversely related to DOC concentration, had a positive and linear effect on zooplankton consumption by juvenile largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), explaining 22% and 28% of the variation in consumption, respectively. By contrast, zooplankton feeding rates by fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) were best predicted by a nonlinear, negative influence of light (R2 = 0.13). In bluegill feeding trials we found a general trend for positive selection of larger zooplankton (Cladocera and Chaoboridae); however, the light climate did not influence the selection of prey type. Largemouth bass selected for larger-bodied zooplankton, with weak evidence that selectivity for large Cladocera changed from negative to neutral selection based on electivity values across the light gradient. Our results suggest that the effect of DOC on the light climate of lakes may directly influence fish zooplanktivory and that this influence may vary among fish species.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Light climate and dissolved organic carbon concentration influence species-specific changes in fish zooplanktivory|
|Series title||Inland Waters|
|Publisher||Taylor & Francis|
|Contributing office(s)||Great Lakes Science Center|