E. Bachiller, U. Cotano, L. Ibaibarriaga, M. Santos, X. Irigoien
Mar. Biol., 162, pp. 1351-1369, (2015)
Small pelagic fish can play an important role in various ecosystems linking lower and upper trophic levels. Among the factor behind the observed inter-annual variations in small pelagic fish abundance, intra- and inter-specific trophic interactions could have a strong impact on the recruitment variability (e.g. anchovy). Egg cannibalism observed in anchovies has been postulated to be a mechanism that determines the upper limit of the population density and self-regulates the population abundance of the species. On the other hand, predation by other guild species is commonly considered as a regulation mechanism between competing species. This study provides empirical evidence of anchovy cannibalism and predation of the main small pelagic fish species on anchovy eggs and estimates the effect of intraguild predation on the anchovy egg mortality rate. Results show that, depending on the year (2008–2009), up to 33 % of the total anchovy egg mortality was the result of sardine predation and up to 4 % was the result of egg cannibalism together with predation by Atlantic and Atlantic Chub mackerel and sprat. Results also indicate that in the Bay of Biscay, fluctuations in the survival index of the early life stages of anchovy are likely to be attributable at least in part to egg cannibalism and especially to a high sardine predation on anchovy eggs.