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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Seasonal variations in the feeding ecology of Nephrops norvegicus in the Adriatic Sea: insights from stomach contents and stable isotope analyses

L. Zacchetti, M. Martinelli*, S. Colella, A. Santojanni, E. Fanelli

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Nephrops norvegicus is one of the most important commercial species in the Mediterranean. This study focused on its feeding ecology in an important fishing ground within the Adriatic Sea, by using an integrated approach of stomach contents (SCA) and stable isotope (SIA) analyses. The simultaneous use of these tools represents a modern and complete approach that provides reliable data over time and reflects the feeding strategy of the analysed species. A monthly sampling was carried out (January–December 2019, July and October 2020; 589 specimens) to investigate seasonal changes in the diet and trophic level. Variations in fullness, gonadosomatic and hepatosomatic indices were analysed, to explore changes in feeding and variations in energy requirements linked to reproductive needs. Results showed that N. norvegicus mostly prey on decapod crustaceans and fish. Seasonal variations in these prey consumption was likely linked to the reproductive patterns of the species. SIA results confirmed SCA findings and allowed to locate N. norvegicus at high position within the benthic food web. Overall, considering that the Adriatic Sea represents one of the most important and productive fishing areas for Norway lobster, this study may provide critical information for a correct ecosystem approach to fisheries management of this resource.