Do abiotic and ontogenetic factors influence the diet of a generalist predator? Feeding ecology of the Pacific spiny dogfish (Squalus suckleyi) in the northeast Pacific Ocean

Abstract

Stomach contents from 1221 Pacific spiny dogfish (Squalus suckleyi) were collected from the Gulf of Alaska over 2004–2006 and analyzed to determine predominant prey species. Pacific spiny dogfish in the Gulf of Alaska have a variable diet suggesting that they are generalist feeders. Of the 68.30% of stomachs with prey contents, the most important prey groups based on the percent prey-specific index of relative importance (%PSIRI) were shrimp (27.06%), cephalopods (17.16%), and forage fish (17.11%). Remaining components of the diet were inconsistent. Commercially valuable species, such as salmon, Oncorhynchus spp., and rockfish, Sebastes spp. constituted only 2.37% and 1.51% of the diet of Pacific spiny dogfish, respectively. Diet diversity was not significantly influenced by spatial, temporal or ontogenetic factors; however, trophic level of prey and average prey item weight varied both interannually and with ontogeny. With increasing size, Pacific spiny dogfish incorporate larger prey items into their diet, and diet composition may be driven more by seasonal availability and prey size than any other factors.

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Acknowledgements

This report is the result of research sponsored in part by the Rasmuson Fisheries Research Center, the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB), and the Alaska Fisheries Science Center Population Dynamics Fellowship through the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Institute for Alaska Research (CIFAR). The authors thank N. Hillgruber, S. Tamone, G. Eckert, A. Baldwin, B. Knoth and A. Eller at the University of Alaska Fairbanks for assistance with species identification. Thanks are also extended to the Resource Ecology and Ecosystem Modeling stomach contents laboratory at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, specifically Katie Dodd, for stomach identification training and providing numerous references. Research was approved by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, permit #04-36. This is NPRB publication number 620.

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Correspondence to Cindy A. Tribuzio.

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Tribuzio, C.A., Strasburger, W.W. & Kruse, G.H. Do abiotic and ontogenetic factors influence the diet of a generalist predator? Feeding ecology of the Pacific spiny dogfish (Squalus suckleyi) in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Environ Biol Fish 100, 685–701 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-017-0596-z

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Keywords

  • Squalidae
  • Diet indices
  • Shark
  • Feeding ecology