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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 416:189-200 (2010)  -  DOI:

Predator–prey relationships and foraging ecology of a marine apex predator with a wide temperate distribution

Adam Barnett1,2,*, Kátya Abrantes1,3, John D. Stevens2, Jonah L. Yick1, Stewart D. Frusher1, Jayson M. Semmens1

1Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, Marine Research Laboratories, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 49, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
2CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, GPO Box 1538, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
3Coastal and Estuary Ecosystem Ecology Laboratory, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia

ABSTRACT: The diet of the broadnose sevengill shark Notorynchus cepedianus was investigated over 3 years from 2 coastal locations in south-east Tasmania: the Derwent Estuary and Norfolk Bay. In general, individuals from both locations consumed the same broad dietary categories (sharks, batoids, teleosts and mammals). However, within these categories, species composition differed. Variations in chondrichthyan prey consumed matched estimations of prey abundance: Mustelus antarcticus was the primary prey in Norfolk Bay, where it was also the most abundant prey species; similarly, Squalus acanthias was an important prey and the most abundant in the Derwent Estuary. A decline in the catch rates of N. cepedianus and elasmobranch prey, in particular M. antarcticus over 3 years coincided with declines in dietary occurrence of M. antarcticus. Also, N. cepedianus and M. antarcticus abundances were both higher in Norfolk Bay than the Derwent Estuary. The correlation with diet and estimations of predator and prey relative abundance suggests N. cepedianus may move into coastal areas to exploit regular seasonal abundant resources, but they can also be versatile opportunistic predators that exploit a temporarily abundant resource.

KEY WORDS: Shark · Notorynchus cepedianus · Diet · Spatial scale · Mustelus antarcticus

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Cite this article as: Barnett A, Abrantes K, Stevens JD, Yick JL, Frusher SD, Semmens JM (2010) Predator–prey relationships and foraging ecology of a marine apex predator with a wide temperate distribution. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 416:189-200.

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