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Trophic ecology of an Atlantic kelp forest fish assemblage (NW Spain) targeted by recreational fishers and implications for coastal management

  • Pablo Pita (a1) and Juan Freire (a2)

Although necessary for sustainable management of coastal ecosystems the understanding of trophic ecology of kelp fishes remains largely limited in the NE Atlantic. In this paper, stable isotope ratios of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), complementarily with analyses of stomach contents, were used to investigate the trophic ecology of an Atlantic kelp forest fish assemblage targeted by spear fishers in Galicia (NW Spain). Trophic habits of the fishes were consistent across the species ranges and six trophic niches were identified. Chelon labrosus was the only pelagic omnivore, while Conger conger and Dicentrarchus labrax were the principal predators, preying on benthic osteichthyes. The intermediate carnivorous Diplodus sargus mainly preyed on benthic molluscs, while Labrus bergylta exploited a wider range of prey. Although associated with different trophic niches, the two morphotypes of L. bergylta showed some degree of diet overlap, providing little support to the hypothesis of their separate management. Moreover, L. bergylta can be a keystone species whose adequate management has relevant implications for the sustainable use of the European kelp forest ecosystems.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: P. Pita, Department of Applied Economics, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Santiago de Compostela, Av. Burgo das Nacións s/n, 15782, Santiago de Compostela, Spain email:
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Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
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