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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 627:201-206 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13098

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Predator-prey body size relationships of cod in a low-diversity marine system

Susa Niiranen1,*,**, Alessandro Orio2,**, Valerio Bartolino2, Ulf Bergström3, Meri Kallasvuo4, Stefan Neuenfeldt5, Didzis Ustups6, Michele Casini2

1Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
2Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of Marine Research, 45330 Lysekil, Sweden
3Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of Coastal Research, 74242 Öregrund, Sweden
4Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Natural Resources, 00790 Helsinki, Finland
5Technical University of Denmark, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
6Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment ‘BIOR’, 1048 Riga, Latvia
*Corresponding author:
**These authors contributed equally to this work

ABSTRACT: How predators select their prey largely defines ecosystem trophic structure, function and dynamics. In aquatic systems, organism body size is an important trait explaining predator-prey interactions. Here, we used a unique Atlantic cod Gadus morhua stomach content dataset with diet information from over 100000 individuals collected from the Baltic Sea in 1963-2014, to explore prey size distribution and predator-prey mass ratios in the diet of Eastern Baltic cod. Maximum and average prey sizes increased with predator size, as for cod in other systems. However, the prey size spectra found in Eastern Baltic cod stomachs reflect the low species diversity in the Baltic Sea. In general, Eastern Baltic cod feed on smaller prey in relation to their body size than other cod populations. Due to the truncated prey size distribution in the Baltic Sea, cod cannibalism functions as a compensatory mechanism that allows Baltic cod to reach their prey size potential. On the other hand, small- and intermediate-sized cod prey mainly on a few invertebrate prey species, potentially making them vulnerable to changes in these prey populations. Our results encourage further studies disentangling the relative effects of prey preference and prey availability on cod trophodynamics in species-poor systems such as the Baltic Sea.


KEY WORDS: Diet · Body size · Predator-prey mass ratio · Gadus morhua · Baltic Sea · Stomach content data


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Cite this article as: Niiranen S, Orio A, Bartolino V, Bergström U and others (2019) Predator-prey body size relationships of cod in a low-diversity marine system. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 627:201-206. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13098

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