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Keywords:

  • Coregonidae;
  • daily growth;
  • microstructure;
  • otolith;
  • zooplankton

The relative roles of temperature and food availability on the seasonal and daily growth of whitefish Coregonus lavaretus larvae were investigated in the oligotrophic peri-alpine Lake Annecy, France. During the spring from 2004 to 2007, surface water temperature and density of potential zooplankton prey were monitored, and 2688 larvae were caught and measured. In addition, the daily growth of 130 larvae was estimated retrospectively by investigating the microstructure of their otoliths. Temperature played the predominant role in controlling both seasonal and daily growth of early larvae. In contrast, the abundance of Mesocyclops leuckarti and larval density was only slightly correlated to larval growth, suggesting no food limitation nor strong interindividual competition over the study period. Overall, these findings run counter to concerns about potential food limitation, but sound a warning about the potential impact of climate change on fish ecology and fisheries management.