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Feeding habits and trophic position of three marine predators in the Mediterranean Sea

Understanding how marine predators interact is a scientific challenge. In marine ecosystems, segregation in feeding habits has been largely described as a common mechanism to allow the coexistence of several competing marine predators. However, little is known about the feeding ecology of most species of chondrichthyans, which play a pivotal role in the structure of marine food webs worldwide. In this study, the trophic ecology of 3 relatively abundant chondrichthyans coexisting in the Mediterranean Sea is examined: the blackmouth catshark Galeus melastomus, the velvet belly lanternshark Etmopterus spinax and the rabbit fish Chimaera monstrosa. To examine their trophic ecology and interspecific differences in food habits, the analysis of stomach content and stable isotopes was combined. Results highlighted a trophic segregation between C. monstrosa and the other 2 species. G. melastomus showed a diet composed mainly of cephalopods, while E. spinax preyed mainly on shrimps and C. monstrosa on crabs. Interspecific differences in the trophic niche were likely due to different feeding capabilities and body size. Each species showed different isotopic niche space and trophic level. Specifically, C. monstrosa showed a higher trophic level than E. spinax and G. melastomus. The high trophic levels of the 3 species highlighted their important role as predators in the marine food web. Results illustrate the utility of using complementary approaches that provide information about the feeding behaviour at short (stomach content) and long-term scales (stable isotopes), which could allow more efficient monitoring of marine food-web changes in the study area.informacion[at]ebd.csic.es  Albo-Puigserver et al (21015) Feeding ecology and trophic position of three sympatric demersal chondrichthyans in the northwestern Mediterranean Mar Ecol Prog Ser 524: 255–268 doi: 10.3354/meps11188

 


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