A global comparative analysis of the feeding dynamics and environmental conditions of larval tunas, mackerels, and billfishes
Llopiz, JK and Hobday, AJ, A global comparative analysis of the feeding dynamics and environmental conditions of larval tunas, mackerels, and billfishes, Deep-Sea Research, Part II, 113 pp. 113-124. ISSN 0967-0645 (2015) [Refereed Article]
Copyrioght 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Scombroid fishes, including tunas, mackerels, and billfishes, constitute some of the most important fisheries in lower latitudes around the world. Though the early life stages of these taxa are relatively well-studied, worldwide patterns in larval feeding dynamics and how such patterns relate to environmental conditions are poorly resolved. We present a synthesis of feeding success (i.e. feeding incidences) and diets of larval scombroids from around the world, and relate these results to water column and sea surface properties for the several regions in which larval feeding studies have been conducted. Feeding success of larval tunas was shown to be distinctly different among regions. In some locations (the Straits of Florida and the Mediterranean Sea), nearly no larvae had empty guts, whereas in other locations (the Gulf of California and off NW Australia) ~40-60% of larvae were empty. Diets were consistently narrow in each region (dominated by cyclopoid copepods, appendicularians, nauplii, and other fish larvae), and were usually, but not always, similar for a given scombroid taxon among regions (though diets differed among taxa). Larval habitat conditions were often similar among the 9 regions examined, but some clear differences included low levels of eddy kinetic energy and cooler waters (at the surface and at depth) in the Mediterranean, and lower chlorophyll concentrations around the Nansei Islands, Japan and off NW Australia where feeding success was low. When observed zooplankton abundances are also taken into account, the compiled results on feeding and environmental conditions indicate a bottom-up influence on feeding success. Moreover, the variability among regions highlights the potential for region-specific mechanisms regulating larval survival and, ultimately, levels of adult recruitment.