Assessment of the diets of cod Gadus morhua and whiting Merlangius merlangus juveniles in a frontal region close to the Norwegian Trench: co-existence or competition?
Over 200 pelagic juvenile cod Gadus morhua and whiting Merlangius merlangus were sampled in spring 2001 at stations inside and outside a frontal region close to the Norwegian Trench, and their stomach contents analysed in the context of zooplankton samples taken at the same time and same locations. Merlangius merlangus juveniles appeared to feed on a diverse zooplankton community, whereas G. morhua juveniles appeared to preferentially select Pseudocalanus elongatus, even though these prey items were not the dominant component of the prey community. The results suggest that during the pelagic juvenile stage, M. merlangus and G. morhua are direct competitors for zooplanktonic prey. In addition, because M. merlangus are more opportunistic, they may be more tolerant to changes in the species composition of the prey community, and therefore out-compete G. morhua juveniles at times of low preferred prey abundance or under changing environmental conditions.
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