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Feeding ecology of sprat (Sprattus sprattus L.) and sardine (Sardina pilchardus W.) larvae in the German Bight, North Sea

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The abundance of the sardine in the North Sea suddenly increased after 1995. Since 2002, the sardine has been spawning regularly in the German Bight, and all its life stages can be found in the area. The larval feeding ecology of two small pelagic clupeiform species with very similar life histories was investigated, the particular aim being to determine signs of food overlap. The distribution and feeding of sprat and sardine larvae were investigated during late spring 2003 on two transects covering a wide range of environmental conditions in the German Bight. Larvae co-occurred at all the stations investigated. Sprat and sardine larvae shared a wide range of prey types. Gut fullness and feeding success were similar in both species; however, potential food competition is avoided to some extent by different habitat preferences.
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