The Western and Central Pacific Ocean sustains the highest tuna production in the world. This province is also characterized by many islands and a complex bathymetry that induces specific current circulation patterns with the potential to create a high degree of interaction between coastal and oceanic ecosystems. Based on a large dataset of oceanic predator stomach contents, our study used generalized linear models to explore the coastal-oceanic system interaction by analyzing predator-prey relationship. We show that reef organisms are a frequent prey of oceanic predators. Predator species such as albacore (Thunnus alalunga) and yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) frequently consume reef prey with higher probability of consumption closer to land and in the western part of the Pacific Ocean. For surface-caught-predators consuming reef prey, this prey type represents about one third of the diet of predators smaller than 50 cm. The proportion decreases with increasing fish size. For predators caught at depth and consuming reef prey, the proportion varies with predator species but generally represents less than 10%. The annual consumption of reef prey by the yellowfin tuna population was estimated at 0.8 ± 0.40 CV million tonnes or 2.17 × 10(12)± 0.40 CV individuals. This represents 6.1% ± 0.17 CV in weight of their diet. Our analyses identify some of the patterns of coastal-oceanic ecosystem interactions at a large scale and provides an estimate of annual consumption of reef prey by oceanic predators.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2012|