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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 466:167-175 (2012)  -  DOI:

Season and prey type influence size dependency of predator−prey body mass ratios in a marine fish assemblage

Jonathan C. P. Reum1,3,*, Mary E. Hunsicker2

1School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
2College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA
3Present address: Conservation Biology Division, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2725 Montlake Blvd. E, Seattle, Washington 98112, USA

ABSTRACT: Marine and freshwater food webs are strongly structured by size-dependent predator−prey interactions. Predator−prey body mass ratios (PPMR) are important parameters in size-based food-web models, but studies evaluating the temporal stability of PPMR or its relationship to predator feeding modes are scant. Using a large data set of predator−prey pairs from a diverse fish community sampled in summer, fall, and winter, we showed that community-level PPMR varied with predator mass in a nonlinear (dome-shaped) manner. PPMR was higher in the summer relative to the fall and winter for all predator body size classes regardless of whether prey were fish or invertebrate. Further, the size dependency of PPMR was dome-shaped for invertebrate prey but positive and linear for fish prey. We empirically show that community-level PPMR is dynamic rather than fixed, which is in agreement with general expectations set by simulation studies of biomass spectra. However, we are presently unable to identify the specific processes underlying these patterns. Size-based models of marine ecosystems offer considerable promise over traditional taxa-based approaches, and our analyses provide insight into major patterns of variation in PPMR in a temperate marine system.

KEY WORDS: Body mass · Demersal fish · Feeding interactions · Food web · Puget Sound · Size spectra · Trophic level

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Cite this article as: Reum JCP, Hunsicker ME (2012) Season and prey type influence size dependency of predator−prey body mass ratios in a marine fish assemblage. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 466:167-175.

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