Cormorant predation on PIT-tagged lake fish

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Christian Skov *
Niels Jepsen
Henrik Baktoft
Teunis Jansen
Stig Pedersen
Anders Koed
(*) Corresponding Author:
Christian Skov | ck@aqua.dtu.dk

Abstract

The present study use data from recovered PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tags to explore species- and size-specific annual predation rates by cormorants on three common lacustrine fishes (size range 120-367 mm) in a European lake; roach (Rutilus rutilus), common bream (Abramis brama) and perch (Perca fluviatilis). In addition, we quantify the level of age/size truncation that cormorant predation could introduce in a population of perch, an important fish for recreational angling as well as for trophic interactions and ecosystem function in European lakes. Based on three years of PIT tagging of fish in lake Viborg and subsequent recoveries of PIT tags from nearby cormorant roosting and breeding sites, we show that cormorants are major predators of roach, bream and perch within the size groups we investigated and for all species larger individuals had higher predation rates. Perch appear to be the most vulnerable of the three species and based on a comparison with mortality estimates from lakes without significant avian predation, this study suggest that predation from cormorants can induce age/size truncation in lake Viborg, leaving very few larger perch in the lake. This truncation reduces the likelihood of anglers catching a large perch and may also influence lower trophic levels in the lake and thus turbidity as large piscivorous perch often play an important structuring role in lake ecosystem functioning.

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