The Feeding of Plaice and Sand-Eel Larvae in the Southern Bight in Relation to the Distribution of their Food Organisms
The quantitative study of planktonic food chains has proceeded rather slowly, and there seem to be two main reasons for this. On the one hand, food remains in the guts of planktonic animals and often appears as a green or brown mush in which few items can be identified with potential prey organisms. This is often the case in herbivores like copepods, but with fish we are more fortunate, since most species are carnivorous during most of their larval life. With patience, we can almost always identify the food that remains in the guts of fish larvae. A second reason may be that food webs are generally regarded as being complex, with a variety of trophic links existing at any one time. According to this view, simple linear food chains do not exist in nature. In the long term, this is a valid generalization, but for brief periods during its life, a larval fish is restricted as to what it can feed on, both by the size of prey it is able to capture, and by the prey organisms available within that size range. By isolating these periods and examining them separately, it should be possible to build up a composite picture of the feeding habits of larval fish which bypasses the theoretical problems of complex food webs.
KeywordsFish Larva Encounter Rate Food Density Larval Life Southern Bight
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