, 601:17 | Cite as

Contrasting pike (Esox lucius L.) movement and habitat choice between summer and winter in a small lake

  • A. Kobler
  • T. Klefoth
  • C. Wolter
  • F. Fredrich
  • R. ArlinghausEmail author


The objective of this study was to contrast movement rates and habitat choice of pike (Esox lucius Linnaeus) in mid-summer and mid-winter in a 25-ha lake (Kleiner Döllnsee, northeastern Germany) using radio-telemetry. Positional telemetry for consecutive 96-h was conducted by boat in July 2005 and by walking on surface ice in January/February 2006. Positions of pike (N = 11) were recorded with a GPS unit corrected by a reference station. Movement rates, distance to shore and habitat use were compared between summer and winter and relative to daytime and fish length. Pike moved significantly more in summer, and during summer had activity peaks in twilight periods. In winter, pronounced activity peaks at specific daytime periods were missing and pike chose habitats significantly closer to shore. In summer, submerged macrophyte beds were positively and pelagic areas negatively selected. In winter, pike negatively selected shallow open water in the littoral zone, and there was a tendency to avoid the pelagic. Movement rate and distance to shore were significantly and positively related to the size of pike.


Diurnal behaviour Habitat choice Seasonal movements Winter activity Pike Radio telemetry 



We thank Alexander Türck for excellent technical assistance in the field. Many thanks to Alina, Alexandra, Kay and Johnny for scuba diving and Thomas Mehner for measuring water depth with echo-sounder. We thank Michael Fritsch for his help creating digital maps of macrophytes and water depth of Lake Kleiner Döllnsee. Also thanks to Dieter Opitz for installing a GPS reference station and giving ideas for the experimental setup, and to Christian Helms and Thomas Hintze for technical assistance. Many thanks to Ben Beardmore for his English correction of this manuscript and to Anders Koed and one anonymous reviewer. This study was approved through an animal care permit granted by the Ministry for Rural Development, Environment and Consumer Protection, Brandenburg, according to the German Animal Protection Act.


  1. Adamek, Z. & A. Opacak, 2005. Prey selectivity in pike (Esox lucius), zander (Sander lucioperca) and perch (Perca fluviatilis) under experimental conditions. Biologia 60: 567–570.Google Scholar
  2. Arlinghaus, R. & T. Mehner, 2004. A management-orientated comparative analysis of urban and rural anglers living in a metropolis (Berlin, Germany). Environmental Management 33: 331–344.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beaumont, W. R. C., K. H. Hodder, J. E. G. Masters, L. J. Scott & J. S. Welton, 2005. Activity patterns in pike (Esox lucius), as determined by motionsensing telemetry. In Spedicato, M. T., G. Lembo & G. Marmulla (eds), Aquatic telemetry: Advances and Applications. Proceedings of the Fifth Conference on Fish Telemetry held in Europe. Ustica, Italy, 9–13 June 2003. FAO/COISPA, Rome, 231–243.Google Scholar
  4. Berg, S., E. Jeppesen & M. Sondergaard, 1997. Pike (Esox lucius L.) stocking as a biomanipulation tool. 1. Effects on the fish population in Lake Lyng (Denmark). Hydrobiologia 342/343: 311–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bohl, E., 1980. Diel pattern of pelagic distribution and feeding in planktivorous fish. Oecologia 44: 368–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Casselman, J. M., 1974. External sex determination of northern pike, Esox lucius Linnaeus. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 103: 343–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Casselman, J. M., 1978. Effects of environmental factors on growth, survival, activity, and exploitation of northern pike. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 11: 114–128.Google Scholar
  8. Casselman, J. M. & C. A. Lewis, 1996. Habitat requirements of northern pike (Esox lucius). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 53 (Suppl. 1), 161–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chapman, C. A. & W. C. Mackay, 1984a. Direct observation of habitat utilization by northern pike. Copeia 1: 255–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chapman, C. A. & W. C. Mackay, 1984b. Versatility in habitat use by a top aquatic predator, Esox lucius L. Journal of Fish Biology 25: 109–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Charnov, E. L. & J. F. Gillooly, 2004. Size and temperature in the evolution of fish life histories. Integrative & Comparative Biology 44: 494–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cook, M. F. & E. P. Bergersen, 1988. Movements, habitat selection and activity periods of northern pike in eleven mile reservoir, Colorado. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 117, 495–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Craig, J. F. (ed.), 1996. Pike: Biology and Exploitation. Chapman & Hall, London.Google Scholar
  14. Diana, J. S., W. C. Mackay & M. Ehrman, 1977. Movements and habitat preference of northern pike (Esox lucius) in Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 106: 561–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fredrich, F., S. Ohmann, B. Curio & F. Kirschbaum, 2003. Spawning migrations of the chub in the River Spree, Germany. Journal of Fish Biology 63: 710–723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grimm, M. P. & M. Klinge, 1996. Pike and some aspects of its dependence on vegetation. In Craig, J. F. (ed.), Pike: Biology and Exploitation. Chapman & Hall, London: 125–156.Google Scholar
  17. Headrick, M. R. & R. F. Carline, 1993. Restricted summer habitat and growth of northern pike in two Southern Ohio Impoundments. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 122: 228–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Helfman, G. S., 1993. Fish behaviour by day, night and twilight. In Pitcher, T. J. (ed.), Behaviour of Teleost Fishes. Chapman & Hall, London, 479–512.Google Scholar
  19. Jacobsen, L., S. Berg, N. Jepsen & C. Skov, 2004. Does roach behaviour differ between shallow lakes of different environmental state? Journal of Fish Biology 65: 135–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jepsen, N. & K. Aarestrup, 1999. A comparison of the growth of radio-tagged and dye-marked pike. Journal of Fish Biology 55: 880–883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jepsen, N., S. Beck, C. Skov & A. Koed, 2001. Behavior of pike (Esox lucius L.) <50 cm in a turbid reservoir and in a clearwater lake. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 10: 26–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Koed, A., K. Balleby, P. Mejhelde & K. Aarestrup, 2006. Annual movement of adult pike (Esox lucius L.) in a lowland river. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 15: 191–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lucas, M. C. & E. Baras, 2000. Methods for studying spatial behaviour of freshwater fishes in the natural environment. Fish and Fisheries 1: 283–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Masters, J. E. G., K. H. Hodder, W. R. C. Beaumont, R. E. Gozlan, A. C. Pinder, R. E. Kenward & J.S. Welton, 2005. Spatial behaviour of pike Esox lucius L. in the River Frome, UK. In Spedicato, M. T., G. Lembo, G. Marmulla (eds), Aquatic Telemetry: Advances and Applications. Proceedings of the Fifth Conference on Fish Telemetry held in Europe. Ustica, Italy, 9–13 June 2003. FAO/COISPA, Rome, 179–190.Google Scholar
  25. Pitcher, T. J. & R. Turner, 1986. Danger at dawn: experimental support for the twilight hypothesis in shoaling minnows. Journal of Fish Biology 29: 59–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Prejs, A., A. Martyniak, S. Boron, P. Hliwa & P. Koperski, 1994. Food web manipulation in a small, eutrophic Lake Wirbel, Poland: effects on stocking with juvenile pike on planktivorous fish. Hydrobiologia 275/276: 65–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Raat, A. J. P., 1988. Synopsis of Biological Data on the Northern Pike Esox lucius Linneaus 1758. FAO Fisheries Synopsis 30 Rev 2: 178 pp.Google Scholar
  28. Rogers, K. B., 1998. Habitat Use by Largemouth Bass and Northern Pike on the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Colorado. Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado (PhD Thesis).Google Scholar
  29. Rogers, K. B. & E. P. Bergersen, 1996. Application of geographic information systems in fisheries: Habitat use by northern pike and largemouth bass. American Fisheries Society Symposium 16: 315–323.Google Scholar
  30. Rogers, K. B. & G. C. White, 2007. Analysis of movement and habitat use from telemetry data. In Brown, M. & C. Guy (eds), Analysis and Interpretation of Freshwater Fisheries Data. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland Chapter 14, 625–676.Google Scholar
  31. Rosell, R. S. & K. C. MacOscar, 2002. Movements of pike, Esox lucius, in Lower Lough Erne, determined by mark-recapture between 1994 and 2000. Fisheries Management and Ecology 9: 189–196.Google Scholar
  32. Skov, C., O. Lousdal, P. H. Johansen & S. Berg, 2003. Piscivory of 0+pike (Esox lucius L.) in a small eutrophic lake and its implication for biomanipulation. Hydrobiologia 506: 481–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vehanen, T., P. Hyvärinen, K. Johansson & T. Laaksonen, 2006. Patterns of movement of adult northern pike (Esox lucius L.) in a regulated river. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 15: 154–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Kobler
    • 1
  • T. Klefoth
    • 2
  • C. Wolter
    • 2
  • F. Fredrich
    • 3
  • R. Arlinghaus
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Faculty of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Department of Biology and Ecology of FishesLeibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Gesellschaft zur Rettung des StöresRostockGermany
  4. 4.Faculty of Agriculture and Horticulture, Institute of Animal SciencesHumboldt-University of BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations