, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 115-126

Patterns and selectivity in the feeding of certain mesopelagic fishes

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Abstract

Stomach contents were analysed from the 7 most numerous species of mesopelagic fish caught in a series of 11 hauls over a 24 h period at 230 to 266 m depth in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean. The numerical abundance of organisms per filled stomach and the frequency of occurrence of empty stomachs were used to indicate feeding periodicity. The ecological significance of the feeding periodicity was considered by examining it in connection with an investigation of the day-night vertical distribution of zooplankton and micronekton to 2000 m at the same station. Additional dietary evidence on the 7 species considered was also obtained from the vertical series. Feeding selectivity was examined by comparing the composition of the zooplankton population, sampled separately but simultaneously with the micronekton, with that from the overall stomach contents of the species examined. Feeding periodicity was demonstrated for 6 species, of which 3 were found to be feeding selectively: Valenciennellus tripunctulatus on calanoid copepods, Argyropelecus aculeatus on ostracods, and Lampanyctus cuprarius on amphipods and possibly euphausiids. The limited data available on the other 3 species suggested that they were either random feeders (A. hemigymnus and Lobianchia dofleini) or perhaps selecting against a particular group (Notolychnus valdiviae). No indication of feeding periodicity or selectivity was found for Chauliodus danae. The overall pattern of results confirmed the supposed close correlation between vertical migration and feeding in mesopelagic fish.

Communicated by J.H.S. Blaxter, Oban