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Interplay between temperature, fish partial migration and trophic dynamics


J. Brodersen, Dept of Ecology / Limnology, Ecology Building, Lund Univ., SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden. E-mail:


Whereas many studies have addressed the mechanisms driving partial migration, few have focused on the consequences of partial migration on trophic dynamics, and integrated studies combining the two approaches are virtually nonexistent. Here we show that temperature affects seasonal partial migration of cyprinid fish from lakes to predation refuges in streams during winter and that this migration in combination with temperature affects the characteristics and phenology of lower trophic levels in the lake ecosystem. Specifically, our six-year study showed that the proportion of fish migrating was positively related to lake temperature during the pre-migration growth period, i.e. during summer. Migration from the lake occurred later when autumn water temperatures were high, and timing of return migration to the lake occurred earlier at higher spring water temperatures. Moreover, the winter mean size of zooplankton in the lake increased with the proportion of fish being away from the lake, likely as a consequence of decreased predation pressure. Peak biomass of phytoplankton in spring occurred earlier at higher spring water temperatures and with less fish being away from the lake. Accordingly, peak zooplankton biomass occurred earlier at higher spring water temperature, but relatively later if less fish were away from the lake. Hence, the time between phyto- and zooplankton peaks depended only on the amount of fish being away from the lake, and not on temperature. The intensity of fish migration thereby had a major effect on plankton spring dynamics. These results significantly contribute to our understanding of the interplay between partial migration and trophic dynamics, and suggest that ongoing climate change may significantly affect such dynamics.