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Contribution of cephalopod prey to the diet of large pelagic fish predators in the central North Atlantic Ocean

John M. Logan, Rebecca Toppin, Sean Smith, Benjamin Galuardi, Julie Porter, Molly E Lutcavage
2013
MITSG 13-34
$5.50 DOM / $7.50 INT
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URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967064512000847

Trophic studies documenting the importance of cephalopod prey for large pelagic fish predators have been performed recently for open ocean ecosystems in the Pacific and Indian oceans, but similar data for the central North Atlantic Ocean have been lacking. A series of longline sampling cruises targeting large pelagic fish species was undertaken in the central North Atlantic Ocean in 2001–2002, and stomach samples were analyzed from a variety of tuna, shark, and billfish species to help fill this data gap. Stomach samples were collected from nine species (n=170 non-empty stomachs), with the majority of stomachs from Atlantic swordfish (Xiphias gladius; n=69), yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares; n=31), and albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga; n=28). Ommastrephid squids were the most ubiquitous prey group across predator species and sampling years. Secondary cephalopod prey included octopods, histioteuthids, and architeuthids. Mesopelagic fishes and Sargassum-associated fishes were also identified as important prey. Diet composition varied spatially and prey size increased with predator size for swordfish and yellowfin tuna. Our results support findings in other ocean basins that demonstrate the importance of squid to large pelagic fishes and highlight the need for more research on their ecological and biophysical dynamics.

type: Journal, book, proceeding reprints

Parent Project

Project No.: 2011-E/E-66-NSI
Title: Benjamin Galuardi - MIT Sea Grant - NMFS Population Dynamics Fellowship: Integrating electronic tag information into stock assessment of large pelagic animals