Oxbow lakes are specialised standing water bodies that often support unique macrophyte and animal communities. Between 2015 and 2016, we assessed the diet composition of adult rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) in one such macrophyte-rich lake. Over 2016, we also undertook a series of feeding behaviour tests under artificial conditions, the aim being to assess whether adult rudd represent a threat to the endangered sharp-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton acutifolius). In total, we examined 100 digestive tracts of rudd feeding under natural conditions and 100 from rudd feeding under artificial conditions. Our results show that i) P. acutifolius is deliberately consumed by rudd, and ii) pondweeds, periphyton and invertebrates were the dominant dietary components in the diet. A reluctance to consume cleaned P. acutifolius suggests a link with periphyton and invertebrate consumption. While rudd clearly consume P. acutifolius, we found no evidence of any negative impact on either pondweed development or on the macrophyte community as a whole.
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Vol. 68 • No. 1