, Volume 165, Issue 3, pp 567–576 | Cite as

Three different patterns of how low-intensity waves can affect the energy budget of littoral fish: a mesocosm study

Physiological ecology – Original Paper


In a mesocosm study, somatic and otolith growth of six types of juvenile cyprinids differing in body size and body shape were studied in a low-intensity wave treatment and a no-wave control. Depending on fish type, somatic growth was either reduced by up to 60% or increased by up to 50% following exposure to the wave treatment. Somatic growth and otolith daily increment width (ODIW), the latter being used as a proxy for the fish energy turnover, were compared to reveal the effects of waves on the energy budget of the fish. Three different reaction types to waves, which correlated to the body morphology of the six fish groups, could be distinguished. Small and fusiform fish benefitted from low-intensity waves and showed higher somatic growth rates and greater ODIW in the wave treatment. In small, deep-bodied fish, growth and ODIW were reduced by waves. Finally, in larger fish with either a fusiform or deep-bodied shape, ODIW was decoupled from somatic growth, with larger ODIW in waves, but reduced somatic growth. These results show that low-intensity hydrodynamic stress is a much more important and complex habitat factor than previously assumed. It is concluded that hydrodynamic stress by waves should be accounted for in bioenergetic models and studies on habitat choice in littoral fish species.


Hydrodynamic stress Somatic growth Otolith daily increment width Activity costs Ship-induced waves 



We thank J. Koeritzer, A. Meriac, T. Merz, O. Okle, M. Schmid and M. Wolf for help during the mesocosm experiment and lab work and P. Hirsch and H. Hofmann for fruitful discussions. R. Eckmann and W. N. Probst provided valuable comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. This study was completed within the Collaborative Research Centre 454 “Littoral Zone of Lake Constance” and was financially supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and a personal grant to S.S. by the German National Academic Foundation. The experiments comply with the current laws of Germany, where this study was performed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Limnological InstituteUniversity of ConstanceConstanceGermany
  2. 2.Department for Limnology and ConservationResearch Institute SenckenbergGelnhausenGermany
  3. 3.Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Biologische Anstalt HelgolandHelgolandGermany

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