Linking spatial distribution and feeding behavior of Atlantic horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus) in the Strait of Sicily (Central Mediterranean Sea)

Paola Rumolo, Gualtiero Basilone, Emanuela Fanelli, Marco Barra, Monica Calabr�, Simona Genovese, Serena Gherardi, Rosalia Ferreri, Salvatore Mazzola, Angelo Bonanno

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8 Citations (Scopus)


The Atlantic horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus) is a semi-pelagic fish species with a wide geographical distribution and commonly found on the continental shelf. In recent years, the species has received some attention due to its ecological role in pelagic food webs. Stable isotope of nitrogen and carbon (δ15N and δ13C) and Stomach Content Analysis (SCA) of T. trachurus were adopted as tools to provide necessary knowledge on its feeding habits in the Strait of Sicily. The strong correlation found between δ15N and δ13C values with body length, together with significant ontogenetic shift evidenced by SCA, could be associated to changes in food availability, which in turn is triggered by environmental conditions. Spatial distribution of T. trachurus in the study area, mainly for small and medium size specimens, is linked to lower temperature, salinity and Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PARsat) values with higher aggregations on the Adventure Bank (i.e., an area characterized by periodic upwelling events). Larger size specimens mostly inhabited shallower waters characterized by higher temperature, salinity and PAR values, typical of the central-eastern part of the study area. Our results support the hypothesis that feeding behavior of T. trachurus is strictly linked to environmental factors (i.e. chiefly oceanographic conditions of the water column and day duration) that in turn influences the distribution of its prey. Findings can supply knowledge needed for improving fish stock management and promoting plans able to take into account also local ecosystem analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47 - 58
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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