Scientia Marina, Vol 75, No 4 (2011)

Feeding ecology of demersal elasmobranchs from the shelf and slope off the Balearic Sea (western Mediterranean)

Maria Valls
Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centre Oceanogràfic de les Balears, Spain

Antoni Quetglas
Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centre Oceanogràfic de les Balears, Spain

Francesc Ordines
Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centre Oceanogràfic de les Balears, Spain

Joan Moranta
Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centre Oceanogràfic de les Balears, Spain


The feeding ecology of eight demersal elasmobranchs, three sharks (Etmopterus spinax, Scyliorhinus canicula and Galeus melastomus) and five batoids (Myliobatis aquila, Leucoraja naevus, Raja polystigma, R. miraletus and R. clavata), from the Balearic Sea (western Mediterranean) was analyzed. For each species, the diet and feeding habits were characterized by depth strata using quantitative indices such as diet overlap, diet breadth and prey diversity. Diet variation with size and depth were also tested for the most abundant species. For shelf-living species, natantian and reptantian crustaceans together with teleosts were the most important preys. On slope bottoms, euphausiids were the preferential prey for S. canicula and G. melastomus, while E. spinax fed mainly on cephalopods. The most specialist and generalist diet corresponded to G. melastomus living on the upper slope and S. canicula from the continental shelf, respectively. High overlap was found between all the skates on the continental shelf and the sympatric sharks S. canicula and G. melastomus on the slope. Significant overlap was also found between S. canicula and R. clavata on the continental shelf. Size was found to significantly affect the diet of S. canicula, G. melastomus and R. clavata, whereas depth affected exclusively S. canicula.


Elasmobranch; batoid; shark; feeding habits; diet overlap; niche breadth; Mediterranean

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