Diet overlap and prey selection through metamorphosis in Irish Sea cod (Gadus morhua), haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), and whiting (Merlangius merlangus)

W.L. Rowlands, M. Dickey-Collas, A.J. Geffen, R.D.M. Nash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Copepods in the genus Calanus are usually considered to be the preferred prey of gadoid larvae in many areas; however, in the Irish Sea, the abundances of these Calanus species are low and highly variable. We use this situation to test whether Calanus species are still actively selected by gadoid larvae in Calanus-poor environments. Diets of Irish Sea cod (Gadus morhua), haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), and whiting (Merlangius merlangus) were studied from the yolk-sac stage to the juvenile stage. Prey from stomach contents were compared with in situ abundance via an index of prey preference. As expected, all larvae selected copepod nauplii at the onset of feeding. As the larvae developed, their prey preferences changed and varied with species. Cod and whiting showed a similar transition of prey species preference, with a clear preference for Calanus species after metamorphosis, even in this area of low abundance of these Calanus species. The diet composition of haddock differed from that of cod and whiting, as nauplii remained in their diet later into development and there was little preference for individual copepod species detected. The differences in prey selectivity suggested between these gadoids may be attributed to their population variability through the known variability of their preferred prey items
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1297-1306
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume65
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • calanus-finmarchicus gunnerus
  • northern north-sea
  • fish larvae
  • helgolandicus claus
  • gadoid larvae
  • niche breadth
  • atlantic cod
  • early-life
  • food
  • size

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