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Individual trophic specialization in juvenile European seabass: implications for the management of a commercially important species

Individual trophic specialization in juvenile European seabass: implications for the management of a commercially important species
Individual trophic specialization in juvenile European seabass: implications for the management of a commercially important species
Individual differences in diet can play an important role defining a population's ecological niche and its role within food webs and habitats, but individual trophic specialization is rarely considered in a fisheries context. Stocks of European seabass, Dicentrarchus labrax, have declined in recent years, and policy has focused on managing fishing effort. Inshore nursery grounds represent a critical habitat in terms of recruitment to standing stocks, and improved understanding of the ecology of juvenile seabass at the level of the individual may assist the development of management strategies aimed at maximizing their survival and growth. We quantified levels of individual trophic specialization in juvenile seabass using stomach contents and stable isotope analyses at a monthly resolution over an annual cycle. We found significant, seasonally varying levels of individual specialization in stomach contents, with reduced specialization observed in the spring. This was corroborated by stable isotope analyses, where isotopic variance among seabass individuals was significantly higher compared to that in two other concurrently sampled, sympatric bentho-pelagic predators. Our findings suggest that juvenile seabass form trophic-generalist populations composed of specialized individuals. Considering variation in individual behaviours may improve management strategies aimed at protecting the vulnerable life stages of this commercially important species.
1054-3139
1784-1793
Cobain, Matthew R.D.
af8b6ff0-0fb7-4e82-9b21-15c10f8abded
Steward, Will
26e16c62-38de-4e08-84ca-15534fd9877d
Trueman, Clive N.
d00d3bd6-a47b-4d47-89ae-841c3d506205
Jensen, Antony
ff1cabd2-e6fa-4e34-9a39-5097e2bc5f85
Cobain, Matthew R.D.
af8b6ff0-0fb7-4e82-9b21-15c10f8abded
Steward, Will
26e16c62-38de-4e08-84ca-15534fd9877d
Trueman, Clive N.
d00d3bd6-a47b-4d47-89ae-841c3d506205
Jensen, Antony
ff1cabd2-e6fa-4e34-9a39-5097e2bc5f85

Cobain, Matthew R.D., Steward, Will, Trueman, Clive N. and Jensen, Antony (2019) Individual trophic specialization in juvenile European seabass: implications for the management of a commercially important species. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 76 (6), 1784-1793. (doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsz045).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Individual differences in diet can play an important role defining a population's ecological niche and its role within food webs and habitats, but individual trophic specialization is rarely considered in a fisheries context. Stocks of European seabass, Dicentrarchus labrax, have declined in recent years, and policy has focused on managing fishing effort. Inshore nursery grounds represent a critical habitat in terms of recruitment to standing stocks, and improved understanding of the ecology of juvenile seabass at the level of the individual may assist the development of management strategies aimed at maximizing their survival and growth. We quantified levels of individual trophic specialization in juvenile seabass using stomach contents and stable isotope analyses at a monthly resolution over an annual cycle. We found significant, seasonally varying levels of individual specialization in stomach contents, with reduced specialization observed in the spring. This was corroborated by stable isotope analyses, where isotopic variance among seabass individuals was significantly higher compared to that in two other concurrently sampled, sympatric bentho-pelagic predators. Our findings suggest that juvenile seabass form trophic-generalist populations composed of specialized individuals. Considering variation in individual behaviours may improve management strategies aimed at protecting the vulnerable life stages of this commercially important species.

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9B608D94-AD35-4E8B-BBE9-60472F044E2B - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 27 February 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 10 April 2019
Published date: November 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 437916
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/437916
ISSN: 1054-3139
PURE UUID: 1c3adbca-d957-48c0-ab8f-6340a444eb9a
ORCID for Matthew R.D. Cobain: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1701-3986

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 24 Feb 2020 17:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 06:17

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