Feeding habits of three Batoids in the Levantine Sea (north-eastern Mediterranean Sea) based on stomach content and isotopic data

Yemisken E. , Forero M. G. , Megalofonou P., Eryilmaz L. , Navarro J.

JOURNAL OF THE MARINE BIOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED KINGDOM, vol.98, no.1, pp.89-96, 2018 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 98 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1017/s002531541700073x
  • Page Numbers: pp.89-96


Understanding the diet of marine predators is essential to defining their trophic role in an ecosystem. Elasmobranchs (sharks and batoids) are considered pivotal components of marine food webs, and are often included in the top predator or mesopredator groups. However, in comparison with other Mediterranean areas, research focusing on marine predators inhabiting the Levantine Sea (eastern Mediterranean Sea) is very limited. Here, we examined the feeding habits (diet, trophic width and trophic position) of three endangered batoids (Gymnura altavela (Linnaeus, 1758), Raja asterias Delaroche, 1809 and Raja clavata, Linnaeus, 1758) coexisting in Iskenderun Bay (north-eastern Levantine Sea, Mediterranean Basin) by combining stomach content and stable isotope analyses. The results revealed clear differences in the trophic habits between them. Stomach contents showed differences in the diet between species, showing a clear feeding preference for teleosts in the case of G. altavela and a diet composed of fish and crustaceans in the case of R. asterias and R. clavata. In line with stomach content results, interspecific differences in the isotopic values and trophic levels were found. In particular, G. altavela was isotopically segregated from R. asterias and R. clavata, showing lower isotopic trophic width and higher trophic level. The results of this study provide new insights into the ecological role of these three endangered batoid species in the Levantine Sea and are of crucial importance for management and conservation of these species.