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Summary

Stomach contents of 283 anglerfish (Lophius budegassa), collected in the Adriatic Sea (north-eastern Mediterranean) from experimental trawl surveys in 2005 and 2006, were examined to assess their diet as influenced by fish size, sex and water depth. Changes in food quantities in the stomach were observed, the percentage of empty stomachs decreasing with increasing body size and depth. No differences were found between male and female diets. The anglerfish is essentially an ‘opportunistic feeder’ that consumes mainly fishes, crustaceans and molluscs. Fishes were the primary food consumed by all size classes; the favourite prey was Merluccius merluccius (TL >150 mm for medium and large anglerfish) and Gaidropsarus biscayensis (TL <150 mm for smaller anglerfish). However, the proportion of fish species and molluscs changed with the body size of the anglerfish. The trophic level of L. budegassa estimated in the study area reached a mean value of 4.38, confirming that the species was a carnivore with a preference for large decapodes, cephalopods and fish.