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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 188:93-104 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/meps188093

Spawning cycle of onychoteuthid squids in the southern Indian Ocean: new information from seabird predators

Yves Cherel*, Henri Weimerskirch

Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, UPR 1934 du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 79360 Villiers-en-Bois, France

ABSTRACT: Cephalopods play an important role in the trophic web of the Southern Ocean, but little information is available on their biology. The 2 largest sub-Antarctic seabirds, the king penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus and the wandering albatross Diomedea exulans, feed primarily on squids during the austral winter at the Crozet Islands. We examined a large number of accumulated cephalopod beaks in the stomach of these birds together with some undigested items; first, to understand how these 2 predators share the squid resource during winter, a period of supposed low food availability, and, second, to use a diving and a flying seabird as biological samplers of Southern Ocean cephalopods. Individuals of the family Onychoteuthidae formed the bulk of the squid diet, accounting for 72.6 and 57.0% of the number of lower beaks in samples from king penguins and wandering albatrosses, respectively. Seven different species were identified, the 3 main squids being Kondakovia longimana (38.8 and 28.0% by number for penguins and albatrosses, respectively), Moroteuthis ingens (13.5 and 26.2%) and M. knipovitchi (20.1 and 2.3%). Both seabirds preyed upon the same cephalopod species, but penguins primarily took small- to medium-sized juveniles (99.0% of the onychoteuthids) and albatrosses preyed on larger adult specimens (96.0%). Fresh remains indicated that adult K. longimana and M. ingens were mature individuals which, as shown by satellite tracking of albatrosses, were taken over the slope and nearby oceanic waters surrounding the archipelago. The present study indicates that mating/spawning of K. longimana and M. ingens occurs in Crozet waters during the winter months. It also extends the biogeography of K. longimana to north of the Antarctic Polar Front, in the Polar Frontal Zone, where it has not previously been recorded.

KEY WORDS: Kondakovia longimana · Moroteuthis ingens · Moroteuthis knipovitchi · Wandering albatross · King penguin · Trophic web · Antarctica

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