Fisheries Science

, Volume 72, Issue 3, pp 477–484 | Cite as

Food habits of great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo hanedae at Lake Biwa, Japan, with special reference to ayu Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis

  • Tetsumi Takahashi
  • Kayoko Kameda
  • Megumi Kawamura
  • Tsuneo Nakajima


The recent increase in numbers of individuals of a piscivorous bird, the great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo hanedae, around Lake Biwa has affected the commercial catch of ayu Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis. The food habits of the bird were studied based on 66 stomachs in 1998 and 2001–2002, and a seasonal variation in food contents was observed. The proportion of ayu in stomachs increased after April, and became most dominant during July and August (0.62 in proportion of weight, 0.85 in frequency of occurrence). In contrast, ayu was not found in the stomachs after late October. The increase of ayu in individuals and density in the surface layer of the pelagic zone of the lake during spring was considered as a trigger for the change of the food habits of the birds. The feeding impact of great cormorant on ayu in Lake Biwa was estimated to be approximately 46 t during April to June, and 310 t in July and August. During the main period for the commercial ayu catch (November to the following June), the estimated mass consumed by the bird is much smaller in comparison with the commercial catch.

Key Words

diets feeding impact seasonal variation stomach contents 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Johnsgard PA. Cormorants, Darters, and Pelicans of the World. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington. 1993.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Dirksen S, Boudewijn TJ, Noordhuts R, Marteijn ECL. Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis in shallow eutrophic freshwater lakes: prey choice and fish consumption in the non-breeding period and effects of large-scale fish removal. J. Neth. Ornithol. Union 1995; 83: 167–184.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Glahn JF, Dixson PJ, Littauer GA, McCoy RB. Food habits of double-crested cormorants wintering in the delta region of Mississippi. Colonial Waterbirds 1995; 18: 158–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Engström H, Jonsson L. Great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis diet in relation to fish community structure in a freshwater lake. Vogelwelt 2003; 124 (Suppl.): 187–196.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    del Hoyo J, Elliott A, Sargatal J, eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 1. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. 1992.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Veldkamp R. Diet of cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis at Wanneperveen, The Netherlands, with special reference to bream Abramis brama. J. Neth. Ornithol. Union 1995; 83: 143–155.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Warke GMA, Day KR. Changes in abundance of cyprinid and percid prey affect rate of predation by Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo carbo on Salm on Salmo salar smolt in Northern Ireland. J. Neth. Ornithol. Union 1995; 83: 157–166.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Privileggi N. Great Cormorants Phalachrocorax carbo sinensis wintering in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Northern Adriatic: specific and quantitative diet composition. Vogelwelt 2003; 124 (Suppl.): 237–243.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Stempniewicz L, Martyniak A, Borowski W, Goc M. Interrelationships between Ruffe Gymnocephalus cernuus and Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis in the Vistula Lagoon, N Poland. Vogelwelt 2003; 124 (Suppl.): 261–269.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Russell IC, Cook AC, Kinsman DA, Ives MJ, Lower NJ. Stomach content analysis of Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo at some different fishery types in England and Wales. Vogelwelt 2003; 124 (Suppl.): 255–259.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Trauttmansdorff J. Analysis of Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis stomach contents from different areas of Austria and Liechtenstein. Vogelwelt 2003; 124 (Suppl.): 255–259.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ishida A, Matsuzawa T, Kameda K, Narusue M. The population increase of the Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo and its damaging effect on fisheries and trees in Japan — The present situation, the problems in each area and future measures. J. Field Ornithol. 2000; 18: 1–28.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kameda K, Ishida A, Narusue M. Population increase of the Greats Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo hanedae in Japan: conflicts with fisheries and trees and future perspectives. Vogelwelt 2003; 124 (Suppl.): 27–33.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Narusue M, Matsuzawa T, Kato N, Fukui K. Questionnaire survey on possible relations between Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo and fishery damage in inland waters. J. Field Ornithol. 1999; 17: 133–145.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Narusue M, Sunaga H. Aims of the basic researches of Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), assessment of its impact and the damage control. Jpn. J. Ornithol. 2002; 51: 1–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kameda K, Matsubara K, Mizutani H, Yamada Y. Diet and foraging site selection of the Great Cormorant in Japan. Jpn. J. Ornithol. 2002; 51: 12–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Fukuda M. Breeding biology of the Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo in Japan. Jpn. J. Ornithol. 2002; 51: 116–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Shiga Prefecture. Heisei 14 Nendo, Shiga-Ken Toukei Sho. Shiga Prefecture, Otsu. 2004 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kohda M, Yamagishi S, Harada S, Hotta M. A report on food habits of the common cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo in Lake Biwa. Kansai Shizenhogokikou Kaihou 1994; 16: 43–48 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Zijlstra M, Van Eerden MR. Pellet production and the use of otoliths in determining the diet of cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis: trials with captive birds. J. Neth. Ornithol. Union 1995; 83: 123–131.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Trauttmansdorff J, Wassermann G. Number of pellets produced by immature cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis. J. Neth. Ornithol. Union 1995; 83: 133–134.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Martyniak A, Wziatek B, Szymanska U, Hliwa P, Terlecki J. Diet composition of Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis at Katy Rybackie, NE Poland, as assessed by pellets and regurgitated prey. 2003; 124 (Suppl.): 217–225.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    McKay HV, Robinson KA, Carss DN, Parrott D. The limitations of pellet analysis in the study of cormorant Phalacrocorax spp. diet. Vogelwelt 2003; 124 (Suppl.): 227–236.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Takahashi T, Kameda K, Kawamura M. Identification and length estimation of ayu Plecoglossus altivelis and pond smelt Hypomesus nipponensis from Lake Biwa based on caudal skeleton. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi 2002; 68: 576–578.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Takahashi T, Nakai K, Kameda K. Identification and standard length estimation of largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides and bluegill Lepomis macrochirus from Lake Biwa based on dentary. Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi 2003; 69: 643–645.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Mizutani H. Dietary analysis of great cormorants in Lake Biwa. In: Kawau Kankyou Kenkyukai (ed.). Study of Great Cormorant in Lake Biwa. Kawau Kankyou Kenkyukai, Otsu. 1996; 102–139.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Miyaji D, Kawanabe H, Mizuno N. Colored Illustrations of the Freshwater Fishes of Japan. Hoikusha, Osaka. 1976.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Toida S. Food preferences of the Great Cormorant Phalacrorax carbo hanedae in the Sagami River’s water system, central Japan. Bull. Kanagawa Prefectural Fish. Res. Inst. 2002; 7: 117–122.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Suzuki T, Ujiie M, Oyama A, Tanaka H, Sakai A. Koayu shigen yosoku chousa data (Heisei 13 nendo). In: Shiga Prefectural Fisheries Experiment Station (ed.). Heisei 13 Nendo, Shiga-Ken Suisanshikenjou Jigyou Houkoku. Shiga Prefectural Fisheries Experiment Station, Hikone. 2003; 219–228 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Usuki T, Tanaka H, Ide A, Kataoka Y, Oyama A, Ohe K. Koayu shigen yosoku chousa data (Heisei 14 nendo). In: Shiga Prefectural Fisheries Experiment Station (ed.). Heisei 14 Nendo, Shiga-Ken Suisanshikenjou Jigyou Houkoku. Shiga Prefectural Fisheries Experiment Station, Hikone. 2003; 358–366 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Miura T, Sunaga T, Kawanabe H, Maki I, Azuma M, Tanaka S, Hirai K, Narita T, Tomoda Y, Mizuno N, Nagoshi M, Takamatsu S, Shiraishi Y, Onodera K, Suzuki N, Yanagishima SG. In: Kinki Regional Construction Bureau (ed.). Biwako seibutsu shigen chousadan chuukan houkoku. Kinki Regional Construction Bureau, Osaka. 1966; 711–895 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Azuma M. Studies on the variability of the landlocked ayufish, Plecoglossus altivelis T. et S., in Lake Biwa. IV. Considerations on the grouping and features of variability. Jpn. J. Ecol. 1973; 23: 255–265.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Tsukamoto K. Migratory mechanisms and behavioral characteristics in Ayu. In: Uyeno T, Okiyama M (eds). Ichthyology Currents 1988. Asakura Shoten, Tokyo. 1988; 100–133.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Yuma M, Hosoya K, Nagata Y. Distribution of the freshwater fishes of Japan: an historical overview. Environ. Biol. Fish. 1998; 52: 97–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Kawanabe H, Mizuno N, Hosoya K, eds. Freshwater Fishes of Japan, 3rd edn. Yama-Kei Publishers, Tokyo. 2001.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Nakamura M. Cyprinid Fishes of Japan, Studies on the Life History of Cyprinid Fishes of Japan. Research Institute for Natural Resources, Tokyo. 1969.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Sato K, Hwang-Bo J, Okumura J. Food consumption and basal metabolic rate in common cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo). Bull. Appl. Ornithol. 1988; 8: 58–62.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Fisheries Science 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tetsumi Takahashi
    • 1
  • Kayoko Kameda
    • 2
  • Megumi Kawamura
    • 3
  • Tsuneo Nakajima
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Animal Ecology, Graduate School of ScienceKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Lake Biwa MuseumKusatsu, ShigaJapan
  3. 3.Koganei, TokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations