Marine Biology

, Volume 114, Issue 2, pp 185–197 | Cite as

Resource-partitioning and predation impact of a low-latitude myctophid community

  • T. L. Hopkins
  • J. V. GartnerJr.


This study, based on data collected during summer 1985 in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, examined the degree of overlap in two prime niche parameters, space and food, in 17 of the most abundant myctophid species which inhabit the epipelagic zone at night. Cluster-analyses of vertical distribution information and diet characteristics revealed that while large groups of species overlapped (>60%) in either vertical distributions or diet, when both niche parameters were considered together, little interspecific or intraspecific (size class) overlap occurred. Our data suggest that for myctophids trophic competition is reduced through resource-partitioning, although with considerable overlap at niche boundaries. Niche separation presumably is the result of competition during the evolution of the ecosystem and is maintained presently as “diffuse competition”: the effect on a species of the combined competition from all other species at that trophic level. We suggest that the large degree of niche overlap enables the “packing” of over 50 myctophid species in the epipelagic zone at night. Our calculations indicate that myctophid predation nightly removes 2% of the zooplankton biomass. Myctophid predation is selective in that greatest pressure is on certain size classes and types of prey (copepods, ostracods and euphausiids). In the case of copepods, impact is greatest on the larger, more mature stages and hence on the breeding population. It is estimated that myctophids account for at least one-third of the daily production of zooplankton removed from the epipelagic zone by micronekton in the eastern Gulf.


Biomass Size Class Trophic Level Vertical Distribution Mature Stage 
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.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. L. Hopkins
    • 1
  • J. V. GartnerJr.
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Marine ScienceUniversity of South FloridaSt. PetersburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Natural ResourcesFlorida Marine Research InstituteSt. PetersburgUSA

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