, Volume 170, Issue 1, pp 275–287

Plasticity in habitat use determines metabolic response of fish to global warming in stratified lakes

Global change ecology - Original research

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-012-2286-z

Cite this article as:
Busch, S., Kirillin, G. & Mehner, T. Oecologia (2012) 170: 275. doi:10.1007/s00442-012-2286-z


We used a coupled lake physics and bioenergetics-based foraging model to evaluate how the plasticity in habitat use modifies the seasonal metabolic response of two sympatric cold-water fishes (vendace and Fontane cisco, Coregonus spp.) under a global warming scenario for the year 2100. In different simulations, the vertically migrating species performed either a plastic strategy (behavioral thermoregulation) by shifting their population depth at night to maintain the temperatures occupied at current in-situ observations, or a fixed strategy (no thermoregulation) by keeping their occupied depths at night but facing modified temperatures. The lake physics model predicted higher temperatures above 20 m and lower temperatures below 20 m in response to warming. Using temperature–zooplankton relationships, the density of zooplankton prey was predicted to increase at the surface, but to decrease in hypolimnetic waters. Simulating the fixed strategy, growth was enhanced only for the deeper-living cisco due to the shift in thermal regime at about 20 m. In contrast, simulating the plastic strategy, individual growth of cisco and young vendace was predicted to increase compared to growth currently observed in the lake. Only growth rates of older vendace are reduced under future global warming scenarios irrespective of the behavioral strategy. However, performing behavioral thermoregulation would drive both species into the same depth layers, and hence will erode vertical microhabitat segregation and intensify inter-specific competition between the coexisting coregonids.


Coregonus Bioenergetics Behavioral thermoregulation Microhabitat segregation Diel vertical migration 

Supplementary material

442_2012_2286_MOESM1_ESM.doc (3.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 3920 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology and Ecology of FishesLeibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of EcohydrologyLeibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany

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