Prey occurrence in the stomach contents of four small cetacean species in Peru
AbstractThe diets of long-beaked common dolphins Delphinus capensis (n=117), dusky dolphins Lagenorhynchus obscurus (n=72), Burmeister's porpoises Phocoena spinipinnis (n=69) and offshore common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus (n=22) were determined based on the analysis of the stomach contents collected from animals landed in ports along the Peruvian central coast and from Marcona, in southern Peru, during 1987-1993. The number of prey ingested was obtained by counting the number of fish otoliths and cephalopod mandibles (beaks). Only fish could be identified to species level. Long-beaked common dolphins fed mainly on Peruvian anchovy Engraulis ringens (70.0% by number), Panama lightfish Vincigerria lucetia (7.8%) and slimtail lanternfish Lampanyctus parvicauda (6.7%). Dusky dolphins consumed mainly anchovies (49.7%, 16.8%), slimtail lanternfish (23.6%, 0.1%), Inca scad Trachurus murphyi (17.1%, 0%) and mote sculpin Normanichthys crockeri (0%, 76.0%) off the central Peruvian coast and Marcona, respectively. In the same areas, Burmeister's porpoises fed mainly on anchovy (88.9%, 77.6%), silverside Odontesthes regia (6.5%, 0%), mote sculpin (0%, 8.1%) and South Pacific hake Merluccius gayi (0.6%, 7.9%). Offshore common bottlenose dolphins consumed mainly slimtail lanternfish (39.2%), barracuda Sphyraena sp. (13.5%) and Peruvian pilchard Sardinops sagax (13.3%). The diversity indices of the diet and temporal shifts in the main prey suggest an opportunistic feeding strategy for the four cetacean species studied, which take advantage of the locally most available epipelagic and mesopelagic schooling fish. Cluster analysis shows high similarity in their diets, with these four marine top predators being able to optimally exploit the high productivity of the Peruvian upwelling ecosystem.
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