, Volume 641, Issue 1, pp 275–286 | Cite as

Feeding habits of the Magellan skate: effects of sex, maturity stage, and body size on diet

  • Santiago A. BarbiniEmail author
  • Lorena B. Scenna
  • Daniel E. Figueroa
  • María B. Cousseau
  • Juan M. Díaz de Astarloa
Primary research paper


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of sex, maturity stage, and body size on the diet of the Magellan skate, Bathyraja magellanica, in the Southwest Atlantic off Argentina, by examining stomach contents using a multiple hypothesis modeling approach. Relationships between the number of prey and sex, maturity stage, and total length (TL) were assessed by built generalized linear models (GLM). Furthermore, we tested whether there was a threshold size at which B. magellanica started or quit consuming a given prey. The overall diet of B. magellanica was mainly consisted of teleosts, followed by amphipods, isopods, and decapods. Ontogenetic diet shifts were independent of sex and maturity stage. However, discrete shifts in diet with TL were found, with individuals larger than 554 and 623 mm TL ceasing to consume amphipods and isopods, respectively. The consumption of teleosts progressively increased with increasing predator size. Likewise, ontogenetic shifts in foraging behavior were also observed with smaller individuals showing specialization on amphipods with larger specimens consuming teleosts. These results confirm that ontogenetic shifts in diet of B. magellanica are more a function of predator size rather than any other life-history traits. We propose that these food shifts are probably related to morphological limitations and abilities associated with feeding habits of skate, so when specimens of B. magellanica reach an optimum body size, they may have access to higher quality trophic resources. Our results suggest that evaluating the importance of life-history stages on the feeding habits of a species is essential for understanding how that species exploits food resources, which, in turn, is an important factor in developing a suitable plan of marine ecosystem conservation.


Rajidae Diet composition Feeding strategy Ontogenetic shifts Predator size Bathyraja magellanica 



We thank the Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero (INIDEP) for specimens collected from different research cruises. We are also grateful to Dr. M. A. Scelzo (Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata), Dra. G. Alonso (Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”) and Dra. N. Brunetti (INIDEP) for their help in identifying crabs, amphipods, and squids, respectively. T. Munroe and two reviewers made valuable comments and English grammar corrections which improved greatly the manuscript. This research was supported by the ECORAYA program financed by the Volkswagen Stiftung (project number 03F0383A) and Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata (EXA 15/E98 and EXA 342/06). S. A. Barbini and L. B. Scenna were supported by scholarships from CIC and CONICET, respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Santiago A. Barbini
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lorena B. Scenna
    • 1
    • 3
  • Daniel E. Figueroa
    • 1
  • María B. Cousseau
    • 1
  • Juan M. Díaz de Astarloa
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Ictiología, Departamento de Ciencias MarinasUniversidad Nacional de Mar del PlataMar del PlataArgentina
  2. 2.Comisión de Investigaciones Científicas del Gobierno de la Provincia de Buenos Aires (CIC)La PlataArgentina
  3. 3.Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos AiresArgentina

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