Habitat utilisation by pike Esox lucius L. during winter floods in a southern English chalk river
Authors: Masters, J.E.G., Welton, J.S., Beaumont, W.R.C., Hodder, K.H., Pinder, A.C., Gozlan, R.E. and Ladle, M.
Journal: Hydrobiologia: the international journal on limnology and marine sciences
Seven pike Esox lucius L., implanted with radio-transmitters, were tracked throughout autumn and winter in the River Frome, a southern English chalk river. During the first flood events of the year, pike remained within the main river channel but during subsequent flood events, pike could also be found in flooded fields, in drainage ditches or in a millstream. Eighty percent of the fixes over flooded land occurred within 10 m of the riverbank, although distances of up to 89 m from the bank were recorded. In ditches, pike could be found over 250 m from the main river. For pike in ditches and flooded fields, distance from the main river channel was positively correlated with discharge. There was individual variation amongst pike for the habitat types selected, with some pike utilising flooded field or ditch habitat more often than others. The proportion of time spent out of the main river channel does not appear to be related to the size of the pike. It is hypothesised that pike are leaving the main river channel to exploit feeding opportunities in the flooded fields and drainage ditches, rather than using these areas as refugia from high flow conditions.
Preferred by: Adrian Pinder