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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 620:139-154 (2019)  -  DOI:

Trophic ecology of range-expanding round sardinella and resident sympatric species in the NW Mediterranean

Marta Albo-Puigserver1,*, Diego Borme2, Marta Coll1, Valentina Tirelli2, Isabel Palomera1, Joan Navarro1

1Institut de Ciències del Mar - CSIC, Barcelona 08003, Spain
2Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS), Trieste 34151, Italy
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The recent northward expansion of the round sardinella Sardinella aurita in the Mediterranean Sea has been documented as a consequence of rising sea temperature. At the same time, declines in sardine and anchovy biomass have been observed in the NW Mediterranean Sea, necessitating an assessment of whether the expansion of round sardinella may affect sardine and anchovy populations. Here, we combined stomach content and isotopic analyses to describe the trophic habits of round sardinella in the NW Mediterranean Sea and its trophic relationships with 2 sympatric small pelagic fish, European anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus and European pilchard Sardina pilchardus. Results revealed changes in the diet of round sardinella during the year. In summer, the most important prey were copepods (Acartia spp.) and cladocerans (Penilia avirostris). During winter, the diet was composed mainly of copepods and tunicates (mainly appendicularians), but microplankton was also numerically important in adult diets. In contrast to previous studies, during spring, round sardinella principally fed on salps (Thaliacea). To our knowledge, this is the first time that salps have been identified as an important prey for round sardinella. When compared to coexisting small pelagic fish, we found that round sardinella adults had a different trophic niche than anchovy and sardine. In contrast, round sardinella juveniles partially overlapped the trophic niche with the juveniles of the other 2 species. Therefore, the range expansion of round sardinella probably would not affect sardine and anchovy populations. Only in a situation of food limitation could juveniles of round sardinella compete with and affect both sympatric species. Our results provide new insights into the ecological role of this range-expanding species in the NW Mediterranean Sea, and highlight the importance of gelatinous zooplankton as prey.

KEY WORDS: Gelatinous zooplankton · Sardine · Anchovy · Small pelagic fish · Trophic segregation · Stable isotopes · Stomach contents · Trophic pathways

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Cite this article as: Albo-Puigserver M, Borme D, Coll M, Tirelli V, Palomera I, Navarro J (2019) Trophic ecology of range-expanding round sardinella and resident sympatric species in the NW Mediterranean. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 620:139-154.

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