An experimental approach to estimating vulnerability of European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) ova to predation by invasive ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernuus).
The complexity of substrate covering spawning grounds of Coregonus lavaretus is assumed to have a role in the protection of incubating ova from predation. It is believed that the Loch Lomond population of C. lavaretus is adversely affected by invasive ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernuus) predation on eggs. To discover the protective ability of substrate commonly found on whitefish spawning grounds, predation experiments of ruffe on artificial eggs were conducted. These were presented to ruffe over different substrates: sand, gravel, pebbles and cobbles. It was found that the greatest protection was provided by pebbles and gravel. Eggs are exposed on sand, but are protected by small gaps between pebbles and gravel, while in cobbles the gaps between substrate particles are large enough to sometimes allow ruffe to foraging within the substrate. Using these results, a comparison between the potential protective ability of substrates of spawning grounds in four Scottish whitefish sites was attempted.