Size matters? Species- and size-specific fish predation on recently established invasive quagga mussels Dreissena rostriformis bugensis Andrusov 1897 in a large, deep oligotrophic lake
Author: Baer J., Spiessel C., and Brinker A.
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.15043
Type: Journal Article
Topic: Biology, Ecosystem Impacts
Since its first appearance in Lake Constance in 2016 the invasive quagga mussel Dreissena rostriformis bugensis has come to dominate the mussel community and now occurs in hyperabundant densities over the whole lake bottom. A lake-wide field study was conducted between 2019 and 2020 to obtain a systematic insight into the importance of this novel source of potential prey for the native fish community. In total 664 fish of 20 different species were caught and their digestive tracts were analysed. Meanwhile, quagga mussels were sampled to assess their calorific energy value by size and season. Regressions of septum length on maximum valve length were used to evaluate size-specific mussel consumption by the three dominant quagga-eating fish species. The study shows that nearly all benthivorous fish are able to forage efficiently on quaggas. However, in the case of one keystone species with very high commercial interest, the benthic whitefish Coregonus spp., quagga consumption is more limited as only individuals larger than 35 cm consumed quaggas in relevant amounts. The energy content of quagga mussels is positively size dependent with seasonal effect and elevated values during summer for medium- and large-sized mussels. Even at its peak, the calorific value of quaggas by weight is much lower than that of endemic aquatic invertebrates, while single mass is high. Future implications for fish stocks, food web integrity and possible fishery management options are discussed.