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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 354:245-256 (2008)  -  DOI:

Diet and feeding intensity of sardine Sardina pilchardus: correlation with satellite-derived chlorophyll data

Susana Garrido1,*, Radhouan Ben-Hamadou2, Paulo B. Oliveira1, Maria Emilia Cunha3, Maria Alexandra Chícharo2, Carl D. van der Lingen4

1Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e das Pescas—(INIAP/IPIMAR), Avenida de Brasília, 1449-006 Lisbon, Portugal
2Universidade do Algarve, FCMA, CCMAR, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
3INIAP/IPIMAR, CRIP Sul, Avenida 5 de Outubro s/n, 8700-305 Olhão, Portugal
4Marine and Coastal Management, Private Bag X2, Rogge Bay 8012, South Africa

ABSTRACT: Spatio-temporal variability of the diet of sardine Sardina pilchardus off Portugal was examined through analysis of the stomach contents of fish collected every 14 d from the west and south of Portugal during 2003/2004. Dietary composition of the modal sardine length class was assessed by determining the frequency of occurrence and carbon content of identified prey, and these 2 parameters were combined to estimate a modified index of relative importance of prey (mIRI). The most important prey for sardines were zooplankton, comprising crustacean eggs, copepods, decapods, cirripedes and fish eggs, dinoflagellates and diatoms (particularly the toxin-producer genus Pseudo-nitzschia), which together accounted for >90% of the estimated dietary carbon. Dietary seasonality was similar for both areas, except that the contribution of phytoplankton was higher for fish from the west Portuguese coast, where upwelling events are stronger and recurrent during spring and summer months. The predominance of prey <750 µm in sardine diet suggests that filter feeding is the dominant feeding mode used in the wild. Feeding intensity was similar for both sexes and for fish of different length classes and was higher on the west coast than in the south, which is probably related to the higher productivity of the west coast. Although there was high inter-annual variability in feeding intensity, this parameter was highest for both areas during spring and winter months. Temporal variability in satellite-derived chlorophyll a matched the temporal variability in the dietary contribution by phytoplankton and of sardine feeding intensity, suggesting further investigation of the potential use of satellite-derived chlorophyll a data as a proxy for sardine feeding intensity.

KEY WORDS: Sardina pilchardus · Stomach analysis · Feeding intensity · SeaWIFS

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Cite this article as: Garrido S, Ben-Hamadou R, Oliveira PB, Cunha ME, Chícharo MA, van der Lingen CD (2008) Diet and feeding intensity of sardine Sardina pilchardus: correlation with satellite-derived chlorophyll data. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 354:245-256.

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