The stability of fish communities in shallow lakes undergoing restoration: expectations and experiences from the Norfolk Broads (U.K.)

  • M. R. Perrow
  • A. J. D. Jowitt
  • S. A. C. Leigh
  • A. M. Hindes
  • J. D. Rhodes
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 143)


Community analysis from a range of Norfolk Broads (a series of shallow lakes in Eastern England) reinforces the general perception that species such as roach (Rutilus rutilus) and bream (Abramis brama) dominate in turbid, nutrient-enriched lakes, whereas species such as perch (Perca fluviatilis)), tench (Tinca tinca) and pike (Esox lucius) dominate when submerged macrophytes are abundant. The presence of the latter leads to high piscivore: planktivore ratios. Amongst non-piscivorous species, the relative competitive ability of the different species in the presence of macrophytes is thought to be instrumental in causing these shifts. The fish communities in a number of case-studies undergoing restoration conform to expectations with rapid shifts in community structure once submerged macrophytes become established. There is little evidence that piscivory by pike, the dominant piscivore in the lakes, is important in causing species shifts in the presence of vegetation or in determining overall fish abundance or biomass. Most importantly, even a high biomass contribution of piscivores (to 90%) seems unable to buffer the recruitment of undesirable zooplanktivorous fish should macrophytes fail. Pike thus appear to contribute little to the overall stability of the macrophyte-dominated state. This may be linked, in part, to population regulation by cannibalism and the potential for adults of many cyprinid species to grow beyond predation, thus always providing a source of recruits. The manifestation of high numbers of zooplanktivores is, in turn, a function of high nutrient levels. Reduction of nutrient concentrations to a level at which piscivory may exert an effect amongst a suite of other mechanisms, all contributing to stability, thus remains a central theme of lake restoration.

Key words

community structure macrophyte Esox lucius piscivorous fish zooplanktivorous fish 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. R. Perrow
    • 1
  • A. J. D. Jowitt
    • 1
  • S. A. C. Leigh
    • 1
  • A. M. Hindes
    • 1
  • J. D. Rhodes
    • 1
  1. 1.ECON Ecological Consultancy, Biological SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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