Cannibalism among size classes of larvae may be a substantial mortality component in tuna
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AuthorsReglero, P. (Patricia); Urtizberea, A. (Agurtzane); Torres, A.P. (Asvin Pérez); Alemany, F. (Francisco); Fiksen, Ø. (Øyvind)
Cannibalism among size classes may reduce starvation and improve survival of larval tuna in oligotrophic ocean areas, but it may also be a substantial mortality component depending on the availability of alternative prey. Here, we combine laboratory and field data on tuna larvae with a model of larval foraging and bioenergetics to explore the role of cannibalism in cohort development at different temperatures, durations of hatching period, hatching larval densities and natural mortality rates. Prey fields (zooplankton densities and co-occurrence of different larval stages of 3 species of tuna) were established from cruises in a main tuna spawning area around the Balearic Islands (Mediterranean Sea). Results suggest that a pure zooplankton diet is frequently insufficient to sustain larval growth. Piscivory can be a major source of larval mortality among tuna species and larvae hatched early can feed on abundant larvae of smaller size and have fewer predators themselves. We show how the ...