, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 116-125

Feeding ecology of o-group sea bass,Dicentrarchus labrax, in salt marshes of Mont Saint Michel Bay (France)

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Abstract

0-group sea bass,Dicentrarchus labrax, colonize intertidal marsh creeks of Mont Saint Michel Bay, France, on spring tides (e.g., 43% of the tides) during flood and return to coastal waters during ebb. Most arrived with empty stomachs (33%), and feed actively during their short stay in the creeks (from 1 to 2 h) where they consumed on average a minimum of 8% of their body weight. During flood tide, diet was dominated by mysids,Neomysis integer, which feed on marsh detritus. During ebb, when young sea bass left tidal marsh creeks, the majority had full stomachs (more than 98%) and diet was dominated by the most abundant marsh (including vegetated tidal flats and associated marsh creeks) resident amphipod,Orchestia gammarellus. Temporal and tidal effects on diet composition were shown to be insignificant. Foraging in vegetated flats occurs very rarely since they are only flooded by about 5% of the tides. It was shown that primary and secondary production of intertidal salt marshes play a fundamental role in the feeding of 0-group sea bass. This suggests that the well known nursery function of estuarine systems, which is usually restricted to subtidal and intertidal flats, ought to be extended to the supratidal, vegetated marshes and mainly to intertidal marsh creeks.