Marine Biology

, Volume 95, Issue 3, pp 345–356 | Cite as

Diets of fishes of the upper continental slope of eastern Tasmania: content, calorific values, dietary overlap and trophic relationships

  • S. J. M. Blaber
  • C. M. Bulman


Diets of 15 species of demersal and pelagic fishes on the upper continental slope (420 to 550 m) were determined, based on samples taken every two months over 13 mo (April 1984 to April 1985) off eastern Tasmania. The calorific contribution of each prey item to the diets was determined. The fish could be divided into four trophic categories: pelagic piscivores, epibenthic piscivores, epibenthic invertebrate feeders and benthopelagic omnivores. Dietary overlap between the groups was low. The pelagic piscivores Apogonops anomalus, Trachurus declivis, Brama brama, Lepidopus caudatus and Macruronus novaezelandiae primarily consume the shelf-break myctophid Lampanyctodes hectoris; their diet is narrow, with a large overlap between species. The epibenthic piscivores Deania calcea and Genypterus blacodes both take a greater variety of prey, but have little dietary overlap. The fish feeding on epibenthic invertebrates, Coelorinchus sp. 2 and Centriscops humerosus, obtain most of their energy from benthic Crustacea and Ophiuroidea, supplemented with Lampanyctodes hectoris; the diet is broad, with little overlap. Among the benthopelagic omnivores (Cyttus traversi, Coelorinchus sp. 4, Lepidorhynchus denticulatus, Neocyttus rhomboidalis, Helicolenus percoides, Epigonus denticulatus and E. lenimen), most diets are broad and show slight overlap. All but E. denticulatus consume significant quantities of Lampanyctodes hectoris as well as Crustacea, particularly Polychaeta, Euphausiacea and Pyrosoma atlanticum. Seasonal changes in diet occurred in G. blacodes, T. declivis, Lepidopus caudatus, Coelorinchus sp. 4, Lepidorhynchus denticulatus, H. percoides, E. denticulatus and E. lenimen; these were related to changes in abundance of particular prey species, not to alterations in feeding habits. Only three species, Lepidopus caudatus, Coelorinchus sp. 2 and H. percoides, showed significant diel feeding periodicity. Ontogenetic dietary changes were evident in Cyttus traversi, Coelorinchus sp. 2, Lepidorhynchus denticulatus and H. percoides. Cyttus traversi and H. percoides progressively changed from crustaceans to fish as their size increased. The diets of size classes within species showed little overlap, except for Lepidorhynchus denticulatus, which eats chiefly euphausiids and Lampanyctodes hectoris at all sizes. In addition to describing the diets and trophic relationships of 90% of the fish biomass, the results emphasize the importance to the entire fish community of mesopelagic food resources, particularly Lampanyctodes hectoris. Many benthopelagic species undertake extensive vertical migrations in search of prey, thus playing a major role in the transport of energy from midwater regions to the benthos of the continental slope.


Polychaeta Prey Item Fish Community Prey Species Continental Slope 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. J. M. Blaber
    • 1
  • C. M. Bulman
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Fisheries ResearchCSIRO Marine LaboratoriesClevelandAustralia

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