, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 217-254
Date: 28 Nov 2004

Feeding habits and trophic levels of Mediterranean fish

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The estimation of fractional trophic levels(TROPHs) is essential for the management offisheries resources as well as for quantifyingthe ecosystem effects of fishing. We gatheredall available information concerning thefeeding habits of 332 fish stocks, belonging to146 species, 59 families and 21 orders,throughout the Mediterranean Sea, and estimatedtheir TROPH values. The latter ranged from 2.0to 4.5 and the following functional trophicgroups were identified: (a) pure herbivores (TROPH = 2.0–2.1, mean = 2.02, SD = 0.03),which were very rare and represented by Siganus luridus, Siganus rivulatus andSarpa salpa, all of which feed on red,brown, green and blue-green algae; (b)omnivores with a preference for vegetablematerial (2.1 < TROPH < 2.9, mean = 2.5,SD = 0.12), but feeding on other prey, such assponges, hydrozoans, anthozoans, polychaetes,ostracods, isopods, amphipods and copepods. This type of omnivore was very rare among thecases reviewed; (c) omnivores with a preferencefor animal material (2.9 < TROPH < 3.7,mean = 3.4, SD = 0.19) feeding on a wide variety ofprey (e.g., algae, foraminifera, brachyurans,balanoids, ascidians, amphipods,appendicularians, annelids, isopods,gastropods, cnidarians, ophiurids, polychaetes,cladocerans, mysids, euphausids, fish larvae,cephalopods). They were the most numerous andwere mainly represented by species of thefamilies Blenniidae, Bothidae, Centracanthidae,Gobiidae, Labridae, Lotidae, Macrouridae,Mullidae, Ophidiidae, Soleidae, Triglidaeand Engraulidae; and (d) carnivores witha preference for large decapods, cephalopodsand fish (3.7 < TROPH < 4.5). They werethe next most abundant group among the casesreviewed. They were mainly represented byspecies of the families Dalatiidae, Lophiidae,Scombridae, Scyliorhinidae, Synodontidae,Torpedinidae, Merlucciidae, Xiphiidae andZeidae. This group was divided into twosubgroups: one exhibiting a preference fordecapods and fish (3.7 < TROPH < 4.0,mean = 3.85, SD = 0.09) and another one exhibitinga preference for fish and cephalopods (4.0