Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 6, pp 1349–1361 | Cite as

Feeding selectivity in larvae of the European hake (Merluccius merluccius) in relation to ontogeny and visual capabilities

  • Elvira MoroteEmail author
  • María Pilar Olivar
  • Anna Bozzano
  • Fernando Villate
  • Ibon Uriarte
Original Paper


Feeding ecology was analysed for the first time in the larvae of the European hake (Merluccius merluccius) to determine whether their diet and selectivity were constrained by environmental conditions and how these feeding characteristics were related to ontogeny, prey availability and visual capabilities. Larvae collected during both day and night were analysed, and it was found that feeding incidence was high, regardless of the time of day. Examination of the visual system corroborated the hypothesis that hake larvae should be able to cope with a wide range of photic conditions and to forage even at low light intensity. A clear preference for adult calanoid copepods and, especially, for Clausocalanus spp. was observed in all sizes analysed. Prey number increased with larval size, but prey size did not. This finding indicates that hake larvae behave as selective and specialist predators that consume an increasing number of prey rather than larger prey during larval growth.


Standard Length Prey Item Fish Larva Calanoid Copepod Prey Category 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are most grateful to the colleagues who worked with us on the MAS surveys. Special mention is made of I. Álvarez for his help in sorting larvae and Dr. P. Pankhurst for her advice in vision techniques. A. Lounds and AJE edited the English version. The research was funded by projects CTM2004-03510-C02-01/MAR and CTM2004-03510-C02-02/MAR. E. Morote acknowledges predoctoral FPI Fellowship support from Spain’s Ministry of Education and Science.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elvira Morote
    • 1
    Email author
  • María Pilar Olivar
    • 1
  • Anna Bozzano
    • 1
  • Fernando Villate
    • 2
  • Ibon Uriarte
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Plant Biology and EcologyUniversity of the Basque CountryLeioaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Plant Biology and Ecology, Faculty of PharmacyUniversity of the Basque Country, Paseo de la Universidad 7GasteizSpain

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