Diet and stable isotope analyses reveal the feeding ecology of the orangeback squid Sthenoteuthis pteropus (Steenstrup 1855) (Mollusca, Ommastrephidae) in the eastern tropical Atlantic

Merten, Veronique, Christiansen, Bernd, Javidpour, Jamileh, Piatkowski, Uwe, Puebla, Oscar, Gasca, Rebeca and Hoving, Henk-Jan T. (2017) Diet and stable isotope analyses reveal the feeding ecology of the orangeback squid Sthenoteuthis pteropus (Steenstrup 1855) (Mollusca, Ommastrephidae) in the eastern tropical Atlantic PLoS ONE, 12 (12). e0189691. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0189691.

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Abstract

In the eastern tropical Atlantic, the orangeback flying squid Sthenoteuthis pteropus (Steenstrup 1855) (Cephalopoda, Ommastrephidae) is a dominant species of the epipelagic nekton community. This carnivore squid has a short lifespan and is one of the fastest-growing squids. In this study, we characterise the role of S. pteropus in the pelagic food web of the eastern tropical Atlantic by investigating its diet and the dynamics of its feeding habits throughout its ontogeny and migration. During three expeditions in the eastern tropical Atlantic in 2015, 129 specimens were caught by hand jigging. Stomach content analyses (via visual identification and DNA barcoding) were combined with stable isotope data (∂15N and ∂13C) of muscle tissue to describe diet, feeding habits and trophic ecology of S. pteropus. Additionally, stable isotope analyses of incremental samples along the squid’s gladius—the chitinous spiniform structure supporting the muscles and organs—were carried out to explore possible diet shifts through ontogeny and migration. Our results show that S. pteropus preys mainly on myctophid fishes (e.g. Myctophum asperum, Myctophum nitidulum, Vinciguerria spp.), but also on other teleost species, cephalopods (e.g. Enoploteuthidae, Bolitinidae, Ommastrephidae), crustaceans and possibly on gelatinous zooplankton as well. The squid shows a highly opportunistic feeding behaviour that includes cannibalism. Our study indicates that the trophic position of S. pteropus may increase by approximately one trophic level from a mantle length of 15 cm to 47 cm. The reconstructed isotope-based feeding chronologies of the gladii revealed high intra- and inter-individual variability in the squid’s trophic position and foraging area. These findings are not revealed by diet or muscle tissue stable isotope analysis. This suggests a variable and complex life history involving individual variation and migration. The role of S. pteropus in transferring energy and nutrients from lower to higher trophic levels may be underestimated and important for understanding how a changing ocean impacts food webs in the eastern Atlantic.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-N Experimental Ecology - Food Webs
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R08
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EV Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R03
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1371/journal.pone.0189691
ISSN: 1932-6203
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2017 11:54
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2017 12:46
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/40769

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