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Gelos M.,Asociacion Investigacion y Desarrollo ID | Gelos M.,University of the Republic of Uruguay | Teixeira-de Mello F.,Asociacion Investigacion y Desarrollo ID | Teixeira-de Mello F.,University of the Republic of Uruguay | And 15 more authors.
Hydrobiologia | Year: 2010

Fish play a key role in the functioning of shallow lakes. Simultaneously, fish are affected by physical in-lake factors, such as temperature and water transparency, with potential changes in their cascading effects on other communities. Here, we analysed the fish community structure and fish activity in four subtropical shallow lakes, varying in trophic state and water transparency, to assess changes promoted by temperature (i. e. summer and winter) and the light regime (i. e. day and night). We used a passive method (gillnets) during the day- and at night-time to detect changes in fish activity, but also sampled the littoral zone (during night) by point sample electrofishing to obtain a better description of the fish assemblage and habitat use. We observed different fish assemblages in the two seasons in all lakes. We captured more fish species and also obtained higher numbers (CPUE with nets) in summer. Contrary to our expectations, the visually oriented Characiformes were the most captured fish regardless of water transparency, at both day-time and night-time. We also found higher fish CPUE at night-time in all lakes. However, the differences between night and day decreased with decreasing transparency, being lower in the least clear lake, Lake Cisne. The nocturnal increase in fish CPUE (including visually oriented species) suggests that darkness serves as a good refuge for fish in shallow subtropical lakes, even at the likely cost of a lower feeding efficiency during the night. The importance of darkness seems to decrease with decreasing water transparency. We also argue that cascading effects of changes in the activity of piscivorous fish (seasonal changes in piscivores CPUE), when omni-planktivorous fish are indeed affected, may eventually reach the zooplankton, but may not be strong enough to reach the phytoplankton, regardless of water transparency. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010.

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