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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 678:1-16 (2021)  -  DOI:

Blue whiting Micromesistius poutassou diel feeding behaviour in the Irminger Sea

Søren Post1,2,*, Sigrún H. Jónasdóttir2, Heidi Andreasen2, Anna Heida Ólafsdóttir3, Teunis Jansen1,2

1GINR—Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, 3900 Nuuk, Greenland
2DTU Aqua—National Institute of Aquatic Resources, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
3MFRI—Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, 220 Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: With warming ocean temperatures, the abundance of blue whiting Micromesistius poutassou is increasing in the waters around Greenland. However, in this region, knowledge about the species’ trophic role in the ecosystem is scarce. Consequently, we investigated the diet composition and diel feeding behaviour of blue whiting in the north-eastern part of the Irminger Sea in Greenland waters by analysing their stomach contents and the vertical position/movements of their prey from zooplankton samples and hydroacoustic measurements. We collected the data during a designated experimental survey in July 2016 with repeated sampling at the same location. Results from the stomachs of 624 blue whiting individuals ranging from 22-39 cm long (total length) showed that the highest food intake took place from noon until late evening, with minimum feeding occurring in the morning. The most essential prey groups consisted of euphausiids, copepods, amphipods and fish, in that respective order. Regarding copepod prey, blue whiting had a strong affinity for Calanus hyperboreus and Paraeuchaeta spp. and showed potential for local depletion of these large copepods. On the other hand, the more abundant but smaller C. finmarchicus was almost absent in the fish stomachs, in contrast to findings in other regions. This new understanding provides an early indication of some of the emerging trophodynamics in the Irminger Sea and similar subarctic zooplankton communities with increasing numbers of blue whiting. Our results confirm the importance of accounting for diel and size-specific differences in blue whiting feeding when studying various aspects of its food intake.

KEY WORDS: Calanus copepods · Diel migration · Food selectivity · Greenland waters · mesopelagic fish · Stomach content analysis

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Cite this article as: Post S, Jónasdóttir SH, Andreasen H, Ólafsdóttir AH, Jansen T (2021) Blue whiting Micromesistius poutassou diel feeding behaviour in the Irminger Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 678:1-16.

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