Predator–prey mass ratios of mid-trophic level fishes in a coastal marine ecosystem vary with taxonomy and body size
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Predator–prey mass ratios of mid-trophic level fishes in a coastal marine ecosystem vary with taxonomy and body size

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  • Journal Title:
    Marine Biology
  • Description:
    How predator–prey mass ratios (PPMR) vary across taxa and body sizes has long-standing, unresolved relevance to ecosystem structure, function, and modeling. Mid-level fishes, or forage fishes, convey large amounts of trophic energy in coastal marine ecosystems, but uncertainty in the dependence of their PPMR on predator species and size hampers ecological understanding and model development. Late-summer (September) data (2000, 2001, and 2003) on three major zooplanktivorous forage fishes (capelin Mallotus catervarius, eulachon Thaleichthys pacificus, and juvenile walleye pollock Gadus chalcogrammus) in the western Gulf of Alaska, northeast Pacific Ocean, were used to determine how PPMR varied by species and body size. Differences in species’ ability to transition across prey taxa were associated with different allometric relationships in prey size. Transitioning across taxa allowed prey size to increase hyperallometrically resulting in negative size dependence of PPMR for capelin and juvenile walleye pollock, both marine species. In contrast, eulachon, an anadromous species, consumed euphausiids almost exclusively and exhibited positive size dependence of PPMR. Our findings suggest that some predator species differ in transitioning across size-structured taxonomic groups of prey and consequently differ in their size-PPMR relationship. They also suggest that incorporation of taxon-specific PPMR size dependency into multispecies size-based ecosystem models will improve model realism partly because the PPMR is linked theoretically to trophic transfer efficiency.
  • Source:
    Mar Biol 169, 13 (2022)
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    Public Domain
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