, Volume 792, Issue 1, pp 331–344 | Cite as

Feeding patterns of dominating small pelagic fish in the Gulf of Riga, Baltic Sea

  • Henn Ojaveer
  • Ain Lankov
  • Marilyn Teder
  • Mart Simm
  • Riina Klais
Primary Research Paper


We investigated the feeding of the dominant small pelagic fish—herring Clupea harengus membras and three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus—in the Gulf of Riga (Baltic Sea) in the summers of 1999–2014. The share of empty stomachs, stomach fullness and taxonomic composition of fish diet was analysed. On average, large herring had the highest (19%) and small herring the lowest (6%) share of empty stomachs. Small (<1 mm) cladoceran Bosmina spp. was the most important prey for three-spined stickleback; preying on small (<1.5 mm) copepod Eurytemora affinis was the most efficient for small herring, while Bosmina spp. and E. affinis were equally important for the large herring, followed by the large (mean body length <2.0 mm) non-indigenous cladoceran Cercopagis pengoi. The number of prey taxa per stomach exhibited significant differences between the fish groups studied; the highest mean value was recorded for small herring and the lowest for three-spined stickleback (2.1 and 1.4 taxa, respectively). Although present, the fish group-specific spatial dynamics in feeding parameters (share of empty stomachs and feeding intensity) were weak compared to the observed interannual variation.


Herring Clupea harengus membras Three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus Diet composition Feeding activity Diversity of stomach content 



The authors are very grateful to Lars Rudstam and one anonymous reviewer for their constructive and professional critique that significantly improved the quality of the manuscript. This work resulted from the Joint Baltic Sea Research and Development Programme (BONUS) projects ‘Integrating spatial processes into ecosystem models for sustainable utilisation of fish resources’, INSPIRE and ‘Biodiversity changes—causes, consequences and management implications’, BIO-C3, which were supported by BONUS (Art 185), funded jointly by the European Union and Estonian Research Council. The work was partially funded by Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (Grant SF0180005s10 and institutional research funding IUT02-20). Participants of the Workshop on Spatial Analysis for the Baltic Sea of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES WKSPATIAL) are thanked for discussions.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 407 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henn Ojaveer
    • 1
  • Ain Lankov
    • 1
  • Marilyn Teder
    • 1
  • Mart Simm
    • 2
  • Riina Klais
    • 1
  1. 1.Estonian Marine InstituteUniversity of TartuPärnuEstonia
  2. 2.Estonian Marine InstituteUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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