MEPS 517:217-228 (2014)  -  DOI:

Effects of prey concentration on ingestion rates of European sardine Sardina pilchardus larvae in the laboratory

C. Caldeira1, A. M. P. Santos2, P. Ré1, M. A. Peck3, E. Saiz4, S. Garrido1,*

1Centro de Oceanografia, Laboratório Marítimo da Guia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Avenida Nossa Senhora do Cabo, No. 939, 2750-374 Cascais, Portugal
2Portuguese Institute of the Ocean and the Atmosphere (IPMA), 1449-006 Lisbon, Portugal
3Institute for Hydrobiology and Fisheries Science, University of Hamburg, Olbersweg 24, 22767 Hamburg, Germany
4Institut de Ciències del Mar - CSIC, Ps. Marítim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The quantification of prey requirements for larval fish is essential to understand how environmental factors act to restrict suitable habitats and recruitment success in marine fish. The effect of prey concentration on ingestion rates of the European sardine Sardina pilchardus was estimated for larvae through 50 d post-hatch (dph) under controlled laboratory conditions at 15°C. Prey were nauplii and copepodites of the calanoid copepod Acartia grani, which were provided to larvae at 3 concentrations (0.5, 2 and 6 nauplii ml-1 and 0.1, 0.5 and 1 copepodites ml-1). Larvae were not able to capture copepod nauplii at the beginning of exogenous feeding, suggesting that early larvae depend on smaller prey types and/or less mobile prey than copepods. The mean size of prey found in the guts of sardine larvae increased from 145 to 348 µm for larvae of total length increasing from 6 to 18 mm, respectively. Maximum ingestion rates (232 ± 8.0 µg C larva-1 h-1) were reached at the highest prey concentration diet for individuals >40 dph (1500 to 2500 µg C dry weight). These feeding rates are higher than values previously reported for the larvae of small pelagic fish. The inability of sardine larvae to feed at low prey concentrations, particularly during the first weeks of life, suggests that this species relies on and is adapted to forage within dense prey patches. Given this feeding strategy, bottom-up processes causing food limitation may strongly impact the survival and growth of sardine larvae.

KEY WORDS: Sardina pilchardus · Ingestion rate · Gut content · Acartia grani · Prey selectivity · Prey size · Fish larvae · Small pelagic fish

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Cite this article as: Caldeira C, Santos AMP, Ré P, Peck MA, Saiz E, Garrido S (2014) Effects of prey concentration on ingestion rates of European sardine Sardina pilchardus larvae in the laboratory. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 517:217-228.

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