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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 538:1-12 (2015)  -  DOI:

It takes guts to locate elusive crustacean prey

R. S. Lasley-Rasher1,*, D. C. Brady1, B. E. Smith2, P. A. Jumars1

1University of Maine, Darling Marine Center, Walpole, ME 04573, USA
2NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Mobile crustacean prey, i.e. crangonid, euphausiid, mysid, and pandalid shrimp, are vital links in marine food webs. Their intermediate sizes and characteristic caridoid escape responses lead to chronic underestimation when sampling at large spatial scales with either plankton nets or large trawl nets. Here, as discrete sampling units, we utilized individual fish diets (i.e. fish biosamplers) collected by the US National Marine Fisheries Service and Northeast Fisheries Science Center to examine abundance and location of these prey families over large spatial and temporal scales in the northeastern US shelf large ecosystem. We found these prey families to be important to a wide variety of both juvenile and adult demersal fishes from Cape Hatteras to the Scotian Shelf. Fish biosamplers further revealed significant spatial shifts in prey in early spring. Distributions of mysids and crangonids in fish diets shoaled significantly from February to March. Distributions of euphausiids and pandalids in fish diets shifted northward during March. Of multiple hypotheses for these shifts, prey migration is most strongly supported. Rather than only the classic ontogenetic shift from feeding on shrimp to piscivory, of the 25 identified diet shifts in fish predators, 12 shifts were toward increased shrimp feeding frequency with increasing body length.

KEY WORDS: Fish feeding · Northwest Atlantic · Pandalidae · Mysidae · Euphausiidae · Crangonidae · Migration

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Cite this article as: Lasley-Rasher RS, Brady DC, Smith BE, Jumars PA (2015) It takes guts to locate elusive crustacean prey. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 538:1-12.

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