Journal Article

Analysis of prey size preference of North Sea whiting, saithe, and grey gurnard

Jens Floeter and Axel Temming

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 62, issue 5, pages 897-907
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Analysis of prey size preference of North Sea whiting, saithe, and grey gurnard

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Size preference for prey fish of North Sea whiting, saithe, and grey gurnard was analysed. The analysis combined size-specific prey abundance estimates derived from bottom-trawl surveys with size frequencies of prey in predator stomachs from the International North Sea Stomach Database. To estimate the abundance of all potential prey fish in the sea, predator-specific length-based number spectra were calculated. Prey spectra were weighted by local predator abundance to take the spatial–temporal overlap between predator and their prey into consideration. Species-specific prey size preference models are presented. Contrary to former results, the preferred predator–prey weight ratio of whiting and grey gurnard is an exponentially increasing function of predator size and an exponentially decreasing function of the slope of the number spectrum. When predators grow, they prefer larger prey in absolute units. However, from a species-specific body size onwards they increasingly shift their prey preference towards relatively smaller prey sizes. From a bioenergetic point of view, this behaviour most likely maximizes the predator's foraging efficiency by reducing the expenditure of costly, anaerobically generated energy expended during burst swimming.

Keywords: bioenergetics; biomass spectrum; diet selection; gurnard; optimal foraging; prey size preference; saithe; whiting

Journal Article.  5538 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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