Trophic ecology of commercial-size meagre, Argyrosomus regius, in the Bay of Biscay (NE Atlantic)

Abstract : In the north-eastern Atlantic, meagre (Argyrosmus regius) is one of the largest fish living on the shelf and this species has important commercial interest. Over the past two decades, large variations in meagre abundance have been observed with pluri-annual cycles but the factors involved in such variations are still unclear. Trophic interactions between meagre and other species (both prey and competitors) might be one explanatory variable of the observed variations in meagre recruitment and abundance. In the present study, we described the diet of commercial-size meagre in the Bay of Biscay from stomach content and stable isotope analyses, and explored its dietary ontogeny. We found that commercial-size meagres were mostly piscivorous with a diet dominated by clupeiform fish (mainly anchovy and sardine) completed by demersal fish (mainly pout and whiting). Cannibalism also accounted for a non-negligible part of the diet. Interestingly, stable isotope and stomach content analyses showed only a very slight increase in prey length and trophic level during the ontogeny of large meagre after 50 cm of total length and despite a 3 fold-change of the individual length in our sampling. Our results suggested that specific trophic interactions (i.e., bottom-up control by clupeiform fish on meagre population, competitive effects on piscivorous populations or top-down control by meagre on clupeiform fish populations) may occur in the Bay of Biscay and can impact meagre abundance dynamics. Our study underlined the interest to enhance ecological knowledge of prey-predator relationships in the development of ecosystem-based approach to understand trophic controls impacting aquatic living resources and fishery economy.
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Barbara Hubans, Tiphaine Chouvelon, Marie-Laure Bégout, Gérard Biais, Paco Bustamante, et al.. Trophic ecology of commercial-size meagre, Argyrosomus regius, in the Bay of Biscay (NE Atlantic). Aquatic Living Resources, EDP Sciences, 2017, 30, pp.9. ⟨10.1051/alr/2017004.s001⟩. ⟨hal-01520772⟩

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