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Seasonal variations in diet of arrow squid (Nototodarus gouldi): stomach content and signature fatty acid analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 August 2011

H. Pethybridge*
IMAS, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 77, Hobart, Australia
P. Virtue
IMAS, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 77, Hobart, Australia
R. Casper
IMAS, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 77, Hobart, Australia
T. Yoshida
IMAS, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 77, Hobart, Australia
C.P. Green
IMAS, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 77, Hobart, Australia
G. Jackson
Weimar Center, 20601 West Paoli Lane, Weimar, CA 95736
P.D. Nichols
CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Castray Esplanade, Hobart, Australia
Correspondence should be addressed to: H. Pethybridge, IMAS, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 77, Hobart, Australia email:


This study details the feeding ecology of arrow squid, Nototodarus gouldi, collected opportunistically from trawlers in waters south-east off Australia in 2007 and 2008. Combined stomach content and fatty acid (FA) signature analyses provided clear evidence of seasonal dietary shifts in prey composition. Teleost fish remains (mainly otoliths) were found in 67% of stomachs with the two mesopelagic planktivorous fish, Lampanyctodes hectoris and Maurolicus muelleri dominating. Cephalopods and crustaceans were supplementary dietary components, with an increased representation in the diet over winter. Digestive gland lipid content was moderate (16.4 ± 8.4% wet weight) and was rich in triacylglycerol and monounsaturated fatty acids. Multivariate analysis of FA profiles grouped arrow squid with profiles of mesopelagic fish and cephalopods, thus supporting the findings of stomach content analysis. Seasonal differences in total lipid content were likely related to summer upwelling events and local changes in productivity, while intraspecific differences in lipid class and FA composition were related to seasonal differences of prey consumption. FA analyses also demonstrated dietary differences associated with gender, size and female maturation. Such relationships demonstrate that the diet of N. gouldi is closely linked to prey size, abundance and availability and possibly also, to key life-history stages.

Research Article
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2011

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