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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 470:101-111 (2012)  -  DOI:

Dietary overlap between the potential competitors herring, sprat and anchovy in the North Sea

K. Raab1,2, L. A. J. Nagelkerke2, C. Boerée1, A. D. Rijnsdorp1,2, A. Temming3, M. Dickey-Collas1

1Wageningen IMARES, PO Box 68, 1970 AB IJmuiden, The Netherlands
2Aquaculture and Fisheries Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands
3Institut für Hydrobiologie und Fischereiwissenschaft, Olbersweg 24, 22767 Hamburg, Germany

ABSTRACT: European anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus increased its abundance and distribution in the North Sea during the mid-1990s and may consume similar zooplankton to and/or compete with other occupants of the North Sea like herring Clupea harengus and sprat Sprattus sprattus. The diets of adult anchovy, sprat and juvenile herring of comparable sizes, sampled close in time and space, were compared to understand how the 3 species prey on zooplankton and establish whether their diets overlap or not. Anchovy was found to be more generalist, consuming a higher diversity of prey items. Herring was more specialized, with low diversity of food items. Sprat was intermediate between anchovy and herring. The dietary overlap between anchovy and sprat was highest, followed by herring and sprat before anchovy and herring. The mean weight of stomach contents did not differ between species. We conclude that of the 3 species, anchovy is likely to be the least affected by changing plankton communities.

KEY WORDS: Stomach analysis · Generalist · Specialist · Planktivorous fish

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Cite this article as: Raab K, Nagelkerke LAJ, Boerée C, Rijnsdorp AD, Temming A, Dickey-Collas M (2012) Dietary overlap between the potential competitors herring, sprat and anchovy in the North Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 470:101-111.

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