2020-02-07Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.1111/eff.12532
Environmental determinants of perch (Perca fluviatilis) growth in gravel pit lakes and the relative performance of simple versus complex ecological predictors
Growth of fish is an important contributor to individual fitness as well as fish production. Explaining and predicting growth variation across populations is thus important from fundamental and applied perspectives, which requires knowledge about the ecological factors involved in shaping growth. To that end, we estimated environment-dependent von Bertalanffy growth models for 13 gravel pit lake populations of Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis) from north-western Germany. To identify the main drivers of perch growth, we evaluated the performance of 16 different biotic or abiotic lake variables in explaining growth variation among lakes. In addition, we compared growth predictions from the best-performing model incorporating “complex” variables that require intensive sampling effort, with a model using only “simple”, easily measurable lake variables (e.g. shoreline development factor). The derivation of a simple model aimed at future applications in typically data-poor inland fisheries, predicting expected growth potential from easily measurable lake variables. A model combining metabolic biomass of predators, maximum depth and shoreline development factor performed best in predicting perch growth variation across gravel pits. All three parameters in this model were positively related to perch growth. The best-performing simple model consisted only of the shoreline development factor. Length-at-age predictions from both models were largely identical, highlighting the utility of shoreline development factor in approximating growth potential of perch in gravel pits similar to our study lakes. Our results can be used to inform fisheries management and restoration efforts at existing or newly excavated gravel pit lakes.