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Keywords:

  • Beryx splendens;
  • Chatham Rise;
  • diet;
  • mesopelagic;
  • trophic relationships

The diet of the alfonsino Beryx splendens was determined from examination of stomach contents of 287 specimens of 17 to 48 cm fork length (LF) sampled by bottom trawl on the Chatham Rise to the east of New Zealand. Prey items were predominantly crustaceans and mesopelagic fishes. The most important prey species by mass was Sergestes spp. prawns, followed by the myctophid Lampanyctodes hectoris, and then Pasiphaea spp. prawns. Multivariate analyses indicated that small crustaceans (euphausiids and amphipods) were most important in the diet of smaller B. splendens (100–424 g, 17–26·5 cm), with larger prawn species and mesopelagic fishes most important for larger fish (425–2070 g, 27–46 cm). Moon phase and bottom temperature also explained some of the variability in diet, but the moon phase effect was difficult to explain, and the bottom temperature effect may have been confounded, to some extent, with LF. The results indicated that B. splendens were moderately selective feeders that foraged primarily in the mesopelagic layers. The diet of New Zealand B. splendens is generally similar to those reported from other areas, i.e. dominated by mesopelagic crustaceans and fishes, and with a transition from small crustaceans to fishes with increasing predator size.