Diet composition and food consumption rate of harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena ) in the western Baltic Sea

Heidi Andreasen, Stine Dalmann Ross, Ursula Siebert, Niels Gerner Andersen, Katrin Ronnenberg, Anita Gilles

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Stomach content composition and prey-specific consumption rates of juvenile and adult harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) were estimated from a data set including 339 stomachs collected over a 32 yr period (1980–2011) in the western Baltic Sea. The stomach contents were mainly hard parts of fish prey and in particular otoliths. The bias originating from differential residence time of otoliths in the stomachs was addressed by use of a recently developed approach. Atlantic cod and herring were the main prey of adults, constituting on average 70% of the diet mass. Juvenile porpoises also frequently consumed gobies. Here, the mass contribution by gobies was on aver-age 25%, which was as much as cod. Other species such as whiting, sprat, eelpout, and sandeels were of minor importance for both juveniles and adults. The diet compo-
sition differed between years, quarters, and porpoise acquisition method. Yearly consumption rates for porpoises in the western Baltic Sea were obtained in three scenarios on the daily energy requirements of a porpoise in combination with an estimate including the 95% CLs of the porpoise population size. Cod of age groups 1 and 2 and intermediate-sized herring suffered the highest predation from porpoises
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Mammal Science
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1053-1079
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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