Marine Biology

, 165:79 | Cite as

Factors affecting the importance of myctophids in the diet of the world’s seabirds

  • Yutaka Watanuki
  • Jean-Baptiste Thiebot
Review, concept, and synthesis


Mesopelagic myctophid fish are a key component of the world’s ocean food webs, linking primary consumers and predators. Among marine predators, seabirds are globally significant consumers, but the extent to which they feed on myctophids has been investigated only at the regional scale. This global-scale review of analyses of the stomach contents of 228 seabird species reveals that the occurrence of myctophids in seabird diets is extremely variable. However, myctophids do constitute a considerable amount of the food of penguins, the Procellariidae (shearwaters/petrels, etc.), and storm-petrels; in locations where birds are foraging in oceanic basin/shelf slope habitat; and among birds that feed at night. Recent analyses of the fatty acid signature of stomach oil emphasize that myctophids can be important prey also for seabirds exploiting oceanic habitats. Current efforts to survey seabirds’ distribution outside the breeding period, when they often become more oceanic, and their circadian activity may further support the global importance of myctophids as a pathway for carbon advection between marine compartments.



The authors thank O. Yamamura for information on the global distribution of myctophids, B. Nishizawa for statistical advice, Drs. Yves Cherel, David Ainley and a anonymous reviewer for valuable and helpful comments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. This article is a review paper and does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

227_2018_3334_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (612 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 612 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Fisheries SciencesHokkaido UniversityHakodateJapan
  2. 2.National Institute of Polar ResearchTachikawaJapan

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