, Volume 761, Issue 1, pp 249–259 | Cite as

Factors involved in prey resource partitioning in the genus Artedidraco (Notothenioidei, Artedidraconidae) from the western Ross Sea

  • Mario La Mesa
  • Alberto Castelli
  • Joseph T. Eastman
  • Emilio Riginella


Antarctic plunderfishes are demersal species inhabiting the continental shelf of the Ross Sea, with sympatric distributions and similar morphology. Assuming these species are potential competitors for food, we aimed to quantify food overlap among them and to test the existence of factors involved in prey resource partitioning. Dietary composition and feeding niche breadth were estimated through stomach contents analysis of some species of Artedidraco sampled in the western Ross Sea. The fish community consisted of a wide range of feeders, from specialists like A. glareobarbatus and A. shackletoni, which fed exclusively on epifaunal polychaetes, to generalists like A. loennbergi and A. skottsbergi, which fed on a variety of prey. Although all species relied exclusively on benthic prey, diet diversity and prey type largely differed from each other, both contributing to reduce prey overlap and food competition. In a few cases, relatively high food overlap was observed between species with different spatial distributions. Based on our data and on previous studies, prey resource partitioning in plunderfishes is therefore established through morphological and behavioural adaptations, either by differential development of sense organs and trophic structures or by different diet composition and spatial distribution within the shared benthic habitat.


Plunderfishes Artedidraco Feeding habits Food partitioning Antarctica 



We are grateful to all crew members, personnel and scientific staff aboard of RV Italica for their support in sampling activities. We are also much indebted to Angelika Brandt, Ute Mühlenhardt-Siegel and Jurgen Guererro-Kommritz for taxonomic identification of prey. Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers and the Editor-in-chief whose comments greatly improved the earlier draft of the manuscript. JT Eastman was supported by the National Science Foundation grant ANT-0436190. The study was financially supported by the PNRA (Italian National Antarctic Research Program).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mario La Mesa
    • 1
  • Alberto Castelli
    • 2
  • Joseph T. Eastman
    • 3
  • Emilio Riginella
    • 4
  1. 1.CNRIstituto di Scienze MarineAnconaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di BiologiaUniversità di PisaPisaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical SciencesOhio UniversityAthensUSA
  4. 4.Dipartimento di BiologiaUniversità di PadovaPaduaItaly

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