We aimed to study whether the varying changes in predation pressure by perch (Perca fluviatilis) reflect the biomass, density, and community structure of the benthic macroinvertebrates. Prey preference is size-dependent, and overall predation pressure is density dependent, and thus the size structure of the P. fluviatilis population should affect the structure of the macroinvertebrate community, and the population density of P. fluviatilis should reflect the overall density of benthic macroinvertebrates. We sampled the littoral benthic community in a boreal lake that had been divided into two parts that were subjected to two different fishing procedures during 2007–2012 period and analyzed the macroinvertebrate diet of fish. The benthic macroinvertebrate community reflected the predation pressure. Total macroinvertebrate biomass increased during the study period in the lake division with a non-size-selective fishing procedure (NSF), i.e., all invertivorous perch size-classes targeted, but decreased in the section with negatively size-selective fishing procedure (SSF), i.e., large invertivorous individuals ≥ 16 cm were not targeted. This difference was a result of the increase in large-sized species, such as Odonata, for the NSF procedure and decrease in the SSF procedure. In contrast to total biomass, total macroinvertebrate density did not show a response to predator size structure but rather total macroinvertebrate density decreased with increasing fish density. The study demonstrates the effect of predation pressure of P. fluviatilis on benthic communities, thus highlighting the keystone predator role of the species in boreal lakes and gives more insight on the multiple effects of fish predation on littoral benthic communities.
Aquatic Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 20, 2017
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