Individual trophic specialization in pelagic predators

good bait fishing photo 2A major question in trophic ecology is whether fish have individual diet preferences.  Do some fish prefer to eat crabs, while others prefer to eat fish?  Or are fish more generalist; do they eat whatever comes along?

Most work looking at individual specialization has used stomach content data to assess individual specialization.  But as Olaf, my advisor, points out, if you dissected each of us right now to look at our stomach contents, you would see that I had eaten an egg for breakfast, and you, perhaps had eaten some cereal.  And you might conclude that I am an egg specialist and you are a cereal specialist, when in fact, I am a generalist and you prefer toast (but were out of bread this morning).

We are using stomach contents, stable isotope, and fatty acid data from 75 pelagic predators (striped marlin (Kajikia audax), blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) and dolphinfish (Coryphaena spp.)) to investigate individual specialization in these pelagic predators


T Young, J Pincin, P Neubauer, S Ortega-García, OP Jensen. 2018. Investigating diet patterns of highly mobile marine predators using stomach contents, stable isotope, and fatty acid analyses. ICES J Marine Science. [pdf]


6th International Billfish Symposium, Dania Beach, FL, Sep 2016, Poster: “Do highly mobile predators demonstrate individual diet specialization?” (T Young, S Ortega-Garcia (presenter), J Pincin, P Neubauer, O Jensen)

American Fisheries Society, 145th Annual Meeting, Portland, OR, Aug 2015, Poster: “Are striped marlin ‘true’ generalists? A three-pronged approach” (T Young, J Pincin, S Ortega-García, P Neubauer, O Jensen)

Ecological Society of America, 100th Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD            Aug 2015, Oral presentation: “Individual diet specialization in striped marlin”
(T Young, J Pincin, S Ortega-García, P Neubauer, O Jensen)

5th International Billfish Symposium, Taipei, Taiwan Oct 2013, Poster: “Investigating seasonal diet variation in striped marlin (Kajikia audax) using three complementary methods” (T Young, S Ortega-Garcia (presenter), J Pincin, O Jensen)

Manasquan River Marlin & Tuna Club, Annual Spring Kick-Off Dinner, Brick, NJ, April 2012, Poster: “From sardines to sportfishing: Using stable isotope and fatty acid analysis to better understand tradeoffs between commercial and recreational fisheries in Magdalena Bay, Mexico” (T Young, S Ortega-Garcia, J Pincin, O Jensen)