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Competition for food between the Mediterranean shag, the great cormorant and artisanal fisheries: a case study

Felipe Aguado-Giménez, Sergio Eguía-Martínez, Irene Torres-Campos, Santiago Meroño-García, Jacinto Martínez-Ródenas

The Mediterranean shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii) and the great cormorant (P. carbo sinensis) are syntopic birds in an area encompassing Grosa Island and the Mar Menor coastal lagoon (SE Spain, western Mediterranean) during the breeding season of the former and the wintering period of the latter. Diet composition of both birds was studied through pellet analysis and otolith identification. Competition for fish resources between these two seabirds and with local artisanal fisheries was assessed. Shags preyed preferentially on small pelagic fish, and great cormorants mainly consumed demersal fish. Shag diet consisted of marine fish strictly, but great cormorant fed in all the available environments in the study area, including marine, transitional (coastal lagoon) and freshwater reservoirs. The great dissimilarity observed between shag and great cormorant diet composition showed no competition between them. The low shag population density and fishing effort in their foraging area suggested no competition with fisheries. Conversely, great cormorant population density in the study area was very high, and they foraged on fish of high commercial value. However, competition between great cormorant and artisanal fisheries only affected some of the less abundant species fished.

Keywords: competition; fisheries; great cormorant; otolith; predation; shag; syntopy
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 82(1) : 7-15 Back PDF
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