Dietary habits of the deep-sea flatfish Lepidorhombus boscii in north-eastern Mediterranean waters
Stomach content analysis of four-spotted megrim Lepidorhombus boscii in the oligotrophic Aegean Sea revealed that specimens with fully filled stomachs were rarely encountered. The overall dietary breadth of the species appeared to increase in winter and spring, when stomachs fullness was reduced. The species exhibited a relatively high trophic diversity and could be considered a euryphagous carnivore preying mainly upon crustaceans. Decapod natants, namely Processa canaliculata and Alpheus glaber, dominated in terms of per cent mass, while mysids, represented mainly by Lophogaster typicus, were the most important dietary component in terms of per cent number. Isopods, amphipods and decapod brachyurans were also frequently encountered among stomach contents. Fishes were only ingested by larger specimens (>180 mm total length, LT); mouth gape dimensions increasing in larger specimens, enabled them to consume larger organisms. Discriminant function analysis showed that size and then sex of predators had the highest weight in discriminating the dietary groups produced by cluster analysis. Resource partitioning along the trophic dimension seemed to exist among smaller males and females (<110 mm LT), which also presented significant differences in their mouth gape dimensions. The study of the diel feeding pattern of the species demonstrated that foraging activity took place day and night, while observed qualitative differences might partly reflect variations in prey availability on a 24 h basis.