The role of detritivory as a feeding tactic in a harsh environment – a case study of weatherfish (Misgurnus fossilis)

Pyrzanowski, K., Zięba, G., Dukowska, M., Smith, C. ORCID: 0000-0003-3285-0379 and Przybylski, M., 2019. The role of detritivory as a feeding tactic in a harsh environment – a case study of weatherfish (Misgurnus fossilis). Scientific Reports, 9 (1): 8467. ISSN 2045-2322

14411_Smith.pdf - Published version

Download (1MB) | Preview


The weatherfish (Misgurnus fossilis) is a species that is tolerant of unfavourable environmental conditions and can survive low dissolved oxygen concentrations and high water temperatures. Although this species occurs across almost the whole of Europe, and is protected in many countries, relatively little is known regarding its ecology. To determine the diet of weatherfish, 120 individuals from an artificial drainage canal in central Poland were collected in two seasons (spring and late summer) with contrasting abiotic condition (oxygen concentration, water temperature and transparency). Analysis of gut fullness showed that weatherfish consumed a greater quantity of food in spring (0.92 ± 0.90) compared with summer (0.20 ± 0.26). Contrary to other cobitid taxa, weatherfish fed actively during daytime in both seasons. An estimate of the importance of each dietary component indicated that the most important food categories were chironomids, copepods, Asellus aquaticus and detritus. SIMPER analysis indicated that these four categories together constituted over 65.8% of cumulative dissimilarity in the diet between seasons. Additionally, trophic niche breadth differed significantly between seasons. The study demonstrated that the weatherfish is an opportunistic feeder, consuming large quantities of detritus despite possessing a gut morphology that is atypical of a detritivore. The quantity of detritus in the gut of weatherfish was positively associated with fish total length and varied seasonally, with a greater quantity of detritus in the diet in late summer. These results demonstrate the importance of detritus as a source of energy, particularly during periods of scarcity of alternative prey categories.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Scientific Reports
Creators: Pyrzanowski, K., Zięba, G., Dukowska, M., Smith, C. and Przybylski, M.
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Date: 2019
Volume: 9
Number: 1
ISSN: 2045-2322
44911Publisher Item Identifier
Rights: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 12 Aug 2019 12:59
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2019 12:59

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year