Diet, trophic interactions and possible ecological role of commercial sharks and batoids in northern Peruvian waters

Adriana Gonzalez-Pestana, Jeffrey C. Mangel, Eliana Alfaro-Córdova, Nicolas Acuña-Perales, Francisco Córdova-Zavaleta, Eduardo Segura-Cobeña, Diego Benites, Maximiliano Espinoza, Javier Coasaca-Céspedes, Astrid Jiménez, Sergio Pingo, Victor Moscoso, Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto, Pepe Espinoza

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11 Scopus citations


The Peruvian sea represents one of the most productive ocean ecosystems and possesses one of the largest elasmobranch fisheries in the Pacific Ocean. Ecosystem-based management of these fisheries will require information on the trophic ecology of elasmobranchs. This study aimed to understand the diet, trophic interactions and the role of nine commercial elasmobranch species in northern Peru through the analysis of stomach contents. A total of 865 non-empty stomachs were analysed. Off northern Peru, elasmobranchs function as upper-trophic-level species consuming 78 prey items, predominantly teleosts and cephalopods. Two distinctive trophic assemblages were identified: (a) sharks (smooth hammerhead shark Sphyrna zygaena, thresher shark Alopias spp. and blue shark Prionace glauca) that feed mainly on cephalopods in the pelagic ecosystem; and (b) sharks and batoids (Chilean eagle ray Myliobatis chilensis, humpback smooth-hound Mustelus whitneyi, spotted houndshark Triakis maculata, Pacific guitarfish Pseudobatos planiceps, copper shark Carcharhinus brachyurus and school shark Galeorhinus galeus) that feed mainly on teleosts and invertebrates in the benthonic and pelagic coastal ecosystem. This study reveals for the first time the diet of T. maculata and the importance of elasmobranchs as predators of abundant and commercial species (i.e., jumbo squid Dosidicus gigas and Peruvian anchovy Engraulis ringens). The results of this study can assist in the design of an ecosystem-based management for the northern Peruvian sea and the conservation of these highly exploited, threatened or poorly understood group of predators in one of the most productive marine ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)768-783
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Humboldt
  • diet
  • ecosystem-based management
  • elasmobranch
  • predators
  • rays
  • trophic


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