Summer and spring trophic niche of larval and juvenile Pleuragramma antarcticum in the Western Ross Sea, Antarctica
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- Granata, A., Zagami, G., Vacchi, M. et al. Polar Biol (2009) 32: 369. doi:10.1007/s00300-008-0551-8
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The aim of this paper is to contribute to the knowledge on the feeding habits of larvae and juvenile Pleuragramma antarcticum in the western Ross Sea. In summer, the diet of P. antarcticum postlarvae (8–17 mm) was dominated by calanoid eggs (35.5%), Limacina (32.1%) and tintinnids (17.6%), while the principal food of juveniles consisted mainly of copepods (98.2%), with Oncaea curvata being the most abundant (85.1%) and the most frequently consumed prey. The food composition of P. antarcticum postlarvae (24–29 mm), collected in spring, suggest that they fed actively under the sea ice. Stephos longipes, Harpacticus furcifer and Paralabidocera antarctica sea ice copepods represent, in all their different developmental stages, the most abundant biomass food in Terra Nova Bay in this period. Our results therefore suggest that the diet of younger Pleuragramma specimens shifted in prey composition from the first summer to the following spring. This study draws attention to the key role of the copepod, P. antarctica, in the food web of Terra Nova Bay.