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The feeding ecology of larval Pacific hake (Merluccius productus) in the California Current region: an updated approach using a combined OPC/MOCNESS to estimate prey biovolume

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A combined optical particle counter (OPC) and multiple opening and closing net and environmental sensing system (MOCNESS) was used to obtain simultaneous measurements of the fine-scale distribution of ‘prey-sized’ particles and the vertical distribution of larvae of Pacific hake (Merluccius productus). Physical properties were also measured. The data were used to describe the feeding ecology of Pacific hake larvae, and to explore the effects of prey abundance, time of day, temperature and depth on feeding. Pacific hake larvae consumed a wide variety of prey including copepod eggs, nauplii, copepodites, and euphausiid metanauplii. Calanoid copepodites comprised > 75% of the ingested prey volume. First-feeding larvae were 2.5–3.0 mm SL. These larvae consumed prey 40–200 μm wide. Larvae 3.0–6.5 mm long ingested prey 40–400 μm wide and larvae > 6.5 mm long ingested prey 400–700 μm wide. There were clear diel patterns in feeding incidence and prey volume ingested. Feeding commenced between 06:01 and 08:00 hours PST and continued until ∼ 16:00 hours. Ingested prey items remained in the gut until complete gut evacuation occurred near dawn. The volume of food ingested was estimated using two indices, the cube root of the prey volume (CRPV) and the cube root of the stomach volume (CRSV). Standard length, log elapsed time since gut evacuation, depth and particle biovolume contributed significantly to variation in both indices. Temperature did not contribute to variability in either CRPV or CRSV.
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Keywords: MOCNESS; diet composition; gut content analysis; optical particle counter

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, FL 33149, USA

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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