Can feeding of fish on terrestrial insects subsidize the nutrient pool of lakes?

Mehner, Thomas, Jan Ihlau, Hendrik Dörner, Franz Hölker

Limnol. Oceanogr., 50(6), 2005, 2022-2031 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2005.50.6.2022

ABSTRACT: We estimated consumption and excretion rates of terrestrial-borne phosphorus by a population of the insectfeeding fish species bleak (Alburnus alburnus) in a 0.12-km2 mesotrophic lake of the German lowlands. Fish abundance, growth rates, and diet composition were determined, and consumption and nutrient metabolism were calculated by a bioenergetics model. Mean bleak abundance was about 77,000 ind. km-2. About 84% of bleak consumption consisted of terrestrial insects. Annual consumption of lake-external phosphorus (P) by bleak was 432 g, representing ~2.1% of the lake internal P-pool. Annual excretion of terrestrial-derived phosphorus by bleak was equivalent to ~11% of the mean epilimnetic SRP concentration. A substantial subsidy of lake nutrient pools by insectivorous fish is more likely in lakes <0.03 km2 owing to the increasing perimeter-to-area ratio between donor and recipient habitats. Terrestrial nutrient subsidy by fish feeding may be important only in small oligotrophic lakes in forested areas.

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