MEPS 489:177-195 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10405

Vertically resolved prey selectivity and competition of Baltic herring Clupea harengus and sprat Sprattus sprattus

Matthias Bernreuther1,3,*, Jörn Schmidt2,4, Daniel Stepputtis2,5, Axel Temming1

1Institute for Hydrobiology and Fisheries Science, University of Hamburg, Olbersweg 24, 22767 Hamburg, Germany
2Leibniz-Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
3Present address: Thünen Institute of Sea Fisheries, Palmaille 9, 22767 Hamburg, Germany
4Present address: Sustainable Fishery, Department of Economics, University of Kiel, Wilhelm-Seelig-Platz 1,
24118 Kiel Germany
5Present address: Thünen Institute of Baltic Sea Fisheries, Alter Hafen Süd 2, 18069 Rostock, Germany

ABSTRACT: Prey selectivity of Baltic herring Clupea harengus and sprat Sprattus sprattus was studied in the Bornholm Basin, Baltic Sea, in June 2001. A total of 165 sprat stomachs (10 to 15 cm total length, TL) and 214 herring stomachs (12 to 30 cm TL) were analysed. The diel vertical distribution of zooplankton prey was analysed by multi-net samples; clupeid distributions were estimated by hydroacoustic measurements. These measurements enabled us to describe the diel feeding rhythm and to estimate vertically resolved selectivity indices for the 2 most important zooplanktivores in the Baltic Sea. Diet composition of herring and sprat were similar (mainly copepods and cladocerans), resulting in strong competition. Possibly to reduce this competition, both species were partly specializing on certain prey species (sprat: Podon spp.; herring: Evadne nordmanni and Temora longicornis) and copepodite stages (sprat: adult [C6] males of Pseudocalanus acuspes; herring: C6 females of P. acuspes). Sprat and, to some extent, herring exhibited a marked shift in prey preference between day and night. Sprat mainly selected T. longicornis during the day and Podon spp. during the night, while herring mainly selected T. longicornis during the day and E. nordmanni during parts of the night. A comparison of the field stomach contents with the estimated gastric evacuation predicted by parameters based on laboratory experiments indicated that sprat fed during the night, while herring did not or only to a minor extent. Comparison of our zooplankton sampling scheme with commonly used sampling designs revealed that investigations which consider both time and stage are needed to fully understand the feeding selectivity dynamics of herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea. However, the objective of a selectivity study should determine the most appropriate zooplankton sampling scheme.


KEY WORDS: Selectivity · Competition · Herring · Sprat · Baltic · Diel · Feeding


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Cite this article as: Bernreuther M, Schmidt J, Stepputtis D, Temming A (2013) Vertically resolved prey selectivity and competition of Baltic herring Clupea harengus and sprat Sprattus sprattus. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 489:177-195. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10405

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