|Only a few key prey species fuel a temperate coastal fish food web|Poiesz, S.; Witte, J.IJ.; van der Veer, H.W. (2020). Only a few key prey species fuel a temperate coastal fish food web. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 653: 153-166. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13472
In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. Inter-Research: Oldendorf/Luhe. ISSN 0171-8630; e-ISSN 1616-1599, meer
Food web structure; Wadden Sea; Stomach content analysis; Fish community; Trophic position; Predator-prey interactions
The food web structure of a coastal fish community (western Dutch Wadden Sea) was studied based on stomach content data from samples collected between 2010 and 2018. In total, 54 fish species were caught and 72 different prey items were identified. Fish species consumed from only a few up to >30 different prey species, suggesting the presence of both opportunistic and more specialized feeders. We found no significant differences between years or switches in food source with fish size. The trophic positions of the Wadden Sea fish community ranged from 2.0 to 4.7, with most trophic positions above 3.0. In the past, (near)-resident species were the most abundant guild in spring, and juvenile marine migrants in autumn. At present, all guilds are present in similar but low abundances. The (near)-resident community consisted of about 20 species that fed primarily on amphipod crustaceans, brown shrimps and juvenile herring. There was only a slight overlap in diet with the group of juvenile marine migrants (5 species of juvenile flatfishes and clupeids), whose preferred prey were copepods, polychaetes and brown shrimps. About 15 species of marine seasonal visitors showed an overlap in diet with both the (near)-resident and the juvenile marine migrants, especially for brown shrimps and to a lesser extent herring and gobies. Our results illustrate (1) the pivotal position of a few key prey species (amphipod crustaceans, brown shrimps, juvenile herring and gobies) for the coastal Wadden Sea fishes and (2) that the substantial prey overlap in the diet of some predators cannot exclude intra- and inter-specific competition among these predators.