Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) predation on pikeperch (Sander lucioperca L.) in shallow eutrophic lakes in Poland

  • Piotr Traczuk
  • Andrzej Kapusta
Keywords: lake, Percidae, lake fisheries, fish assemblages


Increases in the population abundance of the piscivorous great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) has led to conflicts with fisheries. Cormorants are blamed for decreased fish catches in many lakes in Poland. The aim of this paper is to describe to role of pikeperch (Sander lucioperca) in the diet of cormorants nesting in a colony on the island in Lake Warnołty. Since the breeding colony is located in the vicinity of Lake Śniardwy, the largest lake in Poland, the cormorants use the resources in this lake. In 2009-2016, 18,432 regurgitated fish were collected, of which 593 were pikeperch. The share of pikeperch among fish collected in 2009-2012 did not exceed 2%, but from 2013 this increased substantially to maximum of 38.2% in 2015. The smallest pikeperch had a standard length of 8.4 cm, and the largest 42.5 cm. Pikeperch mean length differed by year, and the length distribution was close to normal. The sizes of the regurgitated pikeperch indicate that cormorants prey almost exclusively on juvenile specimens. The results of the present study indicate that cormorant predation has a significant impact on pikeperch populations in lakes in the vicinity of the colony, and the great cormorants are possibly a significant factor in the effectiveness of pikeperch management. When planning for the management of fish populations in lakes subjected to cormorant predation pressure, it should be borne in mind that predation by this piscivorous bird species impacts the abundance and size-age structure of fish populations.


P. Traczuk [+]
Department of Lake Fisheries, Giżycko
Inland Fisheries Institute in Olsztyn, Poland
A. Kapusta
Department of Ichthyology, Hydrobiology, and Aquatic Ecology, Inland Fisheries Institute in Olsztyn, Poland