Diet composition and foraging ecology of U.S. Pacific Coast groundfishes with applications for fisheries management
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Diet composition and foraging ecology of U.S. Pacific Coast groundfishes with applications for fisheries management

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  • Journal Title:
    Environmental Biology of Fishes
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    Determining the prey composition and foraging habitats of U.S. Pacific Coast groundfishes are specified management directives that have not received much scientific attention. To address this knowledge gap, we conducted a meta-analysis of the feeding ecology of 18 commercially important species and their life stages during a recent review of Pacific Coast groundfish essential fish habitat. A Major Prey Index was developed to evaluate relative importance among 47 prey taxa. Based on this metric, unidentified teleosts, euphausiids, and brachyuran crabs were the most important prey groups. When 14 generalized prey categories were used, fishes represented the dominant taxon (mean % weight or volume = 32.3) followed by shrimps (11.5), crabs (10.0), and euphausiids (9.5). PERMANOVA results indicated that species-specific differences were the primary source of dietary variability among tested variables (life stage, functional group, taxonomic group). Pacific Coast groundfishes mainly were characterized as mesopredators with estimated trophic levels ranging from 3.4 to 4.2. Foraging habitats differed significantly among functional (benthic, demersal, pelagic) and taxonomic (elasmobranch, roundfish, rockfish, flatfish) groups. Using hierarchical agglomerative cluster analysis, we identified a significantly distinct trophic guild that consumes mainly polychaetes and hard-shelled molluscs (juvenile, juvenile–adult Dover Sole; juvenile–adult English Sole) and another that specializes on euphausiids (juvenile Pacific Hake; juvenile–adult Darkblotched Rockfish). Our findings filled substantial data gaps in the trophic ecology and habitat-based management of commercially important species and can be used to inform future reviews of Pacific Coast groundfish essential fish habitat.
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    Environmental Biology of Fishes, 100(4), 375-393
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    CC BY
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