Diel vertical feeding behaviour of Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) in the Irminger current

Teunis Jansen*, Søren Post, Anna Heida Olafsdottir, Páll Reynisson, Guðmundur J. Óskarsson, Kristine Engel Arendt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The main prey of the Atlantic mackerel undertake diel vertical migrations, however diel and vertical patterns in the feeding by mackerel remains poorly known thus limiting our understanding and quantification of ecosystem trophodynamics and potentially influencing stock assessment and ecosystem based management. By intensive monitoring of adult Atlantic mackerel and its prey during summer in the Irminger Sea, it was found that the diel feeding cycle is of high quantitative importance. Fresh stomach content analysis indicated a marked diel pattern with copepods as the main prey between 16 and 24 (solar time), and euphausiids/myctophids between 22 and 08. Compared with the zooplankton distribution and composition, there were no indications of feeding below the mixed layer. Mackerel selected for the largest and most energy rich prey, namely copepods with prosome lengths>2 mm, and then switched from copepods to euphausiids/myctophids around midnight, despite that the copepods were also aggregated during night. Stomach fullness increased significantly with length and condition, suggesting that individuals that were larger were more effective feeders. The stomach content by weight primarily consisted of copepods (65%, exclusively Calanus finmarchus), euphausiids (18%), and to a lesser extent teleosts (5%, mainly myctophids), hyperiids (4%) and cephalopods (2%). The results are likely widely applicable in the main feeding season and areas (the oceanic parts of the Nordic Seas during summer), because of similarities in the diet of the adult mackerel and in the prey’s diel vertical migration. In conclusion, it is imperative to account for the diel dynamics when quantifying the mackerel diet and its impact on prey populations
Original languageEnglish
JournalFisheries Research
Pages (from-to)25-34
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Epipelagic
  • Deep scattering layer
  • DVM
  • Satiation
  • Sequential feeding


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