All day-long : Sticklebacks effectively forage on whitefish eggs during all light conditions

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2021
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Baer, Jan
Gugele, Sarah Maria
Bretzel, Joachim
DeWeber, J. Tyrell
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PloS ONE. Public Library of Science (PLoS). 2021, 16(8), e0255497. eISSN 1932-6203. Available under: doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0255497
Zusammenfassung

The three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus invaded Lake Contance in the 1940s and expanded in large numbers from an exclusively shoreline habitat into the pelagic zone in 2012. Stickleback abundance is very high in the pelagic zone in winter near the spawning time of pelagic whitefish Coregonus wartmanni, and it is hypothesized that this is triggered by the opportunity to consume whitefish eggs. Field sampling has qualitatively confirmed predation of whitefish eggs by stickleback, but quantification has proven difficult due to stormy conditions that limit sampling. One fundamental unknown is if freshwater stickleback, known as visual feeders, can successfully find and eat whitefish eggs during twilight and night when whitefish spawn. It is also unknown how long eggs can be identified in stomachs following ingestion, which could limit efforts to quantify egg predation through stomach content analysis. To answer these questions, 144 individuals were given the opportunity to feed on whitefish roe under daylight, twilight, and darkness in controlled conditions. The results showed that stickleback can ingest as many as 100 whitefish eggs under any light conditions, and some individuals even consumed maximum numbers in complete darkness. Furthermore, eggs could be unambiguously identified in the stomach 24 hours after consumption. Whitefish eggs have 28% more energy content than the main diet of sticklebacks (zooplankton) based on bomb-calorimetric measurements, underlining the potential benefits of consuming eggs. Based on experimental results and estimates of stickleback abundance and total egg production, stickleback could potentially consume substantial proportions of the total eggs produced even if relatively few sticklebacks consume eggs. Given the evidence that stickleback can feed on eggs during nighttime spawning and may thereby hamper recruitment, future studies aimed at quantifying actual egg predation and resulting effects on the whitefish population are urgently needed.

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570 Biowissenschaften, Biologie
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ISO 690BAER, Jan, Sarah Maria GUGELE, Joachim BRETZEL, J. Tyrell DEWEBER, Alexander BRINKER, 2021. All day-long : Sticklebacks effectively forage on whitefish eggs during all light conditions. In: PloS ONE. Public Library of Science (PLoS). 2021, 16(8), e0255497. eISSN 1932-6203. Available under: doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0255497
BibTex
@article{Baer2021daylo-54738,
  year={2021},
  doi={10.1371/journal.pone.0255497},
  title={All day-long : Sticklebacks effectively forage on whitefish eggs during all light conditions},
  number={8},
  volume={16},
  journal={PloS ONE},
  author={Baer, Jan and Gugele, Sarah Maria and Bretzel, Joachim and DeWeber, J. Tyrell and Brinker, Alexander},
  note={Article Number: e0255497}
}
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