Increased growth and recruitment of piscivorous perch, Perca fluviatilis, during a transient phase of expanding submerged vegetation in a shallow lake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


1. In this study, we examine how a 7-year period of expanding submerged stonewort (Chara spp.) vegetation during a shift from turbid to clear water in a shallow lake influenced individual growth and population size structure of perch (Perca fluviatilis). We expected that a shift from phytoplankton to macrophyte dominance and clear water would improve feeding conditions for perch during a critical benthivorous ontogenetic stage, and enhance the recruitment of piscivorous perch. 2. Growth analysis based on opercula showed that growth during the second year of life was significantly higher in years with abundant vegetation than in years with turbid water and sparse vegetation. Growth was not affected during the first, third and fourth year of life. Stable isotope analyses on opercula from 2-year-old perch showed that the increase in growth coincided with a change in carbon source in the diet. Stable nitrogen ratio did not change, indicating that the increased growth was not an effect of any change in trophic position. 3. Following the expansion of submerged vegetation, perch size range and abundance of piscivorous perch increased in central, unvegetated areas of the lake. In stands of stoneworts, however, mainly benthivorous perch were caught, and size range did not change with time. 4. Our findings provide empirical support for the notion that establishment of submerged vegetation may lead to increased recruitment of piscivorous perch, because of improved competitive conditions for perch during the benthivorous stage. This is likely to constitute a benthic-pelagic feedback coupling, in which submerged vegetation and clear water promote the recruitment of piscivorous perch, which, in turn, may increase water clarity through top-down effects in the pelagic.


  • Anders Hargeby
  • H Blom
  • I Blindow
  • G Andersson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
  • Environmental Sciences


  • Perch, ontogenetic shift, benthic-pelagic coupling, growth, submerged, macrophytes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2053-2062
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Limnology (Closed 2011) (011007000)