Polar Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 9, pp 1789–1799 | Cite as

The benthos as the basis of vendace, Coregonus albula, and perch, Perca fluviatilis, diets in an oligotrophic sub-Arctic lake

  • Nadezhda A. Berezina
  • Alexandra P. Strelnikova
  • Alexey A. Maximov
Original Paper


Many small lakes in northern high latitudes are oligotrophic, with very low planktonic primary production, so that benthos may be the important source of carbon for planktonic and benthic fish. To clarify this question, the stomach content analysis in fish and the stable isotopes of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) in pelagic and benthic organisms were conducted in a sub-Arctic lake (Lake Krivoe, White Sea coast, northern Karelia, Russia). We expected to recognize the main food items, their contribution to the diet of dominating adult fish: perch, Perca fluviatilis, and vendace, Coregonus albula, and trophic links between members of lake food webs. Samples were collected in June–October 2009 (ice-free period), from littoral, profundal, and pelagial habitats. Stable isotope analysis allocated four trophic levels (TL) in lake food webs. The large perch (> 180 mm) were found as piscivorous (top) predator (TL > 4), while vendace and smaller perch as omnivorous predators (TL 3.7–3.9). Stable isotope mixing model (IsoSource, δ13C and δ15N) estimated low proportion (1–5%) for crustacean zooplankton in the diet of both fish species that allocated definitively to benthic–littoral food webs. Great part of energy sources for fish derived from benthic/littoral compartments, including 67–75% from benthic amphipods. Our study also provides evidences for size-dependent (ontogenetic) dietary shifts in the foraging strategies for perch and for amphipods. A great importance of omnivory by consumers was revealed for lake food webs.


Lake Krivoe White Sea basin Food webs Trophic links Plankton Benthos Fish Stomach content Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes 



This work was conducted at the White Sea Biostation “Kartesh” (Zoological institute RAS), and we cordially thank the Director of this station, Dr. Alexey A. Sukhotin, for facilities and support. We are grateful to Dr. Vasily Petukhov and Dr. Andrey N. Sharov for help during field works. Also, special cordial thank to Dr. Kestutis Arbaciauskas (The Nature Research Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania) and Dr. Arturas Razinkovas (Klaipeda University, Klaipeda, Lithuania) for help with stable isotopes analysis. We highly appreciate the corrections and suggestions given by three anonymous referees, as well as all suggestions given by the editor, Dieter Piepenburg, for improving the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving animal participants

All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the practice at which the studies were conducted. This study has been carried out in accordance with the current regulations of the Ministry of Environment of the Russian Federation; all permits for relevant sample collection were obtained during the investigation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadezhda A. Berezina
    • 1
  • Alexandra P. Strelnikova
    • 2
  • Alexey A. Maximov
    • 1
  1. 1.Zoological InstituteRussian Academy of Science (RAS)St. PetersburgRussia
  2. 2.Institute for Biology of Inland WatersRASBorokRussia

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