Contrasting response of two shallow eutrophic cold temperate lakes to a partial winterkill of fish

Sabine Hilt
Thomas Wanke
Kristin Scharnweber
Mario Brauns
Jari Syväranta
Soren Brothers, Utah State University
Ursula Gaedke
Jan Köhler
Betty Lischke
Thomas Mehner


Food-web effects of winterkill are difficult to predict as the enhanced mortality of planktivorous fish may be counterbalanced by an even higher mortality of piscivores. We hypothesised that a winterkill in a clear and a turbid shallow lake would equalise their fish community composition, but seasonal plankton successions would differ between lakes. After a partial winterkill, we observed a reduction of fish biomass by 16 and 43% in a clear-water and a turbid small temperate lake, respectively. Fish biomass and piscivore shares (5% of fish biomass) were similar in both lakes after this winterkill, but young-of-the-year (YOY) abundances were higher in the turbid lake. Top-down control by crustaceans was only partly responsible for low phytoplankton biomass at the end of May following the winterkill in both lakes. Summer phytoplankton biomass remained low in the clear-water lake despite high abundances of YOY fish (mainly roach). In contrast, the crustacean biomass of the turbid lake was reduced in summer by a high YOY abundance (sunbleak and roach), leading to a strong increase in phytoplankton biomass. The YOY abundance of fish in shallow eutrophic lakes may thus be more important for their summer phytoplankton development after winterkill than the relative abundance of piscivores.