Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 169-181

First online:

A Review of Predation Impact by 0+ Fish on Zooplankton in Fresh and Brackish Waters of the Temperate Northern Hemisphere

  • Thomas MehnerAffiliated withDepartment of Biology and Ecology of Fishes, Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries
  • , Ralf ThielAffiliated withInstitute of Hydrobiology und Fisheries Sciences, Elbelabor, Hamburg University

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To assess potential differences in predation impact on zooplankton communities by small (larva) and large 0+ juvenile fish, 18 studies were reviewed from fresh water and the brackish Baltic Sea of the northern hemisphere temperate region. These case studies were performed either in the field or in mesocosm experiments. Larva stocks were found to exert only minor impact on small zooplankton species such as rotifers, copepodids and small cladocerans. In contrast, stocks of 0+ juveniles were found to have the potential to depress populations of large cladocerans and copepods, especially during late summer and autumn. However, studies where both 0+ juvenile fish consumption and zooplankton dynamics and production were exactly quantified are still very rare, and therefore final evaluation of this interaction cannot be made. In addition, papers were summarized that describe differences in morphological and physiological performance between larva and 0+ juvenile fish. The greater impact of 0+ juvenile fish on large zooplankton may be explained by their larger mouth gape and by their better developed abilities to detect and consume their prey items. However, this partly is lessened by the lower energy requirements of juvenile fish compared with identical biomasses of fish larvae, although larva bioenergetics remains only fragmentarily understood. Consequently, selective predation by fish larvae on particular small zooplankton prey may be more important than has been detected so far.

0+ fish feeding zooplankton dynamics ontogenetic development trophic interactions morphology physiology