In the Adriatic Sea, there is little knowledge concerning the role of medium-sized pelagic fish species such as Scomber spp. and Trachurus spp. in the local food web. To better depict their role, stomach content and stable isotope analyses were performed on specimens caught during routine acoustic surveys carried out along the western Adriatic coast. The results show that the two Trachurus species (T. trachurus and T. mediterraneus) share a similar diet but present spatial segregation along a latitudinal (i.e., thermal) gradient, while the two Scomber species (S. scombrus and S. colias) differ for prey preferences and present spatial segregation too, along a bathymetric gradient. The positions (trophic niches) of these species in the food web only partially overlap. This fact allows good resource partitioning and the coexistence of these species in the Adriatic Sea, limiting the risk of possible future collapses of some of these fish populations, with inevitable cascade effects on the entire marine food web. The Mediterranean is one of the most overfished seas of the world where mesopredators are severely threatened. The trophic strategies of four pelagic species that inhabit the Adriatic Sea (Scomber spp. and Trachurus spp.) were investigated through an integrated approach of stomach contents and stable isotopes analyses. Our study demonstrated that Scomber colias feeds mainly on strictly pelagic prey, with fish larvae as a secondary prey in the Southern Adriatic Sea, while S. scombrus feeds on prey belonging to higher trophic levels. Smaller specimens of Trachurus mediterraneus have a diet mainly based on pelagic prey, while larger fishes rely on prey such as benthic decapods, showing an ontogenetic shift in the diet of the species. Trachurus trachurus shows a preference for offshore and deeper areas and a diet such as that of its congeneric, but no clear ontogenetic shift was observed. This spatial segregation allows the co-existence of these two species of Trachurus. Scomber colias mainly inhabits southern areas and S. scombrus shows a preference for the northern sectors. This latitudinal gradient avoids the overlap of their trophic niches. Bayesian mixing models confirmed that the trophic niches of these species only partially overlap in the middle of the trophic web.
Resource Partitioning among "Ancillary" Pelagic Fishes (Scomber spp., Trachurus spp.) in the Adriatic Sea / Da Ros, Zaira; Fanelli, Emanuela; Cassatella, Sacha; Biagiotti, Ilaria; Canduci, Giovanni; Menicucci, Samuele; De Felice, Andrea; Malavolti, Sara; Leonori, Iole. - In: BIOLOGY. - ISSN 2079-7737. - 12:2(2023), p. 272. [10.3390/biology12020272]