Ontogenetic dietary shift and feeding strategy of Raja undulata Lacepède, 1802 (Chondrichthyes: Rajidae) on the Portuguese continental shelf
Keywords:diet, feeding strategy, Raja undulata, Polybius henslowi, Portuguese continental shelf
Under the scope of an ecosystem approach to fisheries, the understanding of trophic interactions is important for the assessment and consequently the proposal of suitable management measures. Raja undulata, like other rajids, is an important demersal predator in the Portuguese coastal community for which the biological and ecological information is still scarce. The ontogenetic dietary shift was investigated. Major length groups were defined through cluster analysis of the mean abundance of prey items. Prey diversity and feeding strategy were evaluated by length group. Multivariate analysis of variance was performed to test the influence of the factors sex, season and maturity on the diet of this species. It was concluded that R. undulata has a dietary ontogenetic shift within the definition of three major length groups (MLGs): 200-550 mm; 550-750 mm and 750-1000 mm. Diet varied from small and semi-pelagic to large and benthic prey. The feeding strategy of the species also changed from a generalised to a specialised diet. The decapod Polybius henslowi was the main prey item, especially for larger predators. Differences were found between sexes, maturity stages and seasons in each MLG.
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