Diet Composition and Trophic Level of Greater Forkbeard Phycis blennoides (Gadiform: Phycidae) from the Algerian Coast

Open access


The diet of the greater forkbeard Phycis blennoides (Brünnich, 1768) of the Algerian coast was studied between December 2013 and June 2015, providing information on its ecology for a better understanding of the feeding strategy. A total of 956 individuals, whose total length (TL) varied between 9.7 and 54.5 cm and weight (W) between 2.80 and 1334.11 g, were examined. The index of relative importance (%IRI), combining the three main descriptors of the presence of different ingested prey (%F, %N, %W), was used to characterize the relative importance of different food taxa. Qualitative and quantitative variations in diet were studied according to sex, size and seasons. The average annual digestive vacuity index (%V) was 5.51. It did not vary between seasons (x2cal = 5.43, x2th = 7.82, α = 5%) and size (x2cal = 2.08, x2th = 5.99, α = 5%), but was different between male (%V = 4.94) and female (%V= 12.78). Qualitative analysis of stomach contents reveals a fairly diverse range of predation with 1342 preys counted for a total weight of 462.84 g, which corresponds to an average number (AN) and weight (AW) of 3.03 and 1.04 g, respectively. This species feeds on benthic preys, composed mainly of natantia crustaceans (%IRI = 44.84) and teleost fish (%IRI = 2.61) with intraspecific preys (%IRI = 6.15). This cannibalism was frequent in specimens with a TL that exceeds 20 cm; it was even more frequent in females as well as in winter. Significant differences in feeding habits of P. blennoides occurred according to sex, fish size and between seasons. The trophic level (TROPH) was high (3.66 < TROPH < 3.97), corresponding to carnivorous character.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Abdellaoui S. Masski H. Tai I. Labriyaj K. Hassan E. H. (2014): Feeding habits of Merluccius merluccius L. and its variability factors in the Moroccan Atlantic Sea. Journal of Biology and Earth Sciences 4 105-112.

  • Abdul-Malak D. Livingstone R. S. Pollard D. Polidoro A. B. Cuttelod A. Bariche M. Bilecenoglu M. Carpenter E. K. Collette B.B. Francour P. Goren M. Kara M. H. Massuti E. Papaconstantinou C. Tunes L. (2011): Overview of the conservation status of the marine fishes of the Mediterranean Sea. Gland Switzerland and Malaga Spain IUCN 61.

  • Alvarez Z. R. Crustàceos R. (1968): Decàpodos Ibéricos. Investigacion pesquera. BarcelonaTomo 32 agosto Deposito legal M. 865-1958 510.

  • Baras E. Jobling M. (2002): Dynamics of intra cohort cannibalism in cultured fish. Aquaculture Research 33 7 461-479.

  • Benchalel W. Derbal F. Kara M. H. (2010): Régime alimentaire du sar commun Diplodus sargus sargus (Sparidae) des côtes de l’est algérien. Cybium 34 3 231-242.

  • Benghali S. M. Mouffok S. Kherraz A. Zitouni B. (2014a): Reproductive biology and growth of greater forkbeard Phycis blennoides (Brünnich 1768) in Western Algerian coasts (Osteichthyes Gadidae). Journal of Biodiversity and Environmental Sciences 4 6 389-398.

  • Benghali S. M. Mouffok S. Kherraz A. Zitouni B. (2014b): Some aspect on the reproductive biology of greater fork-beard Phycis blennoides (Brünnich 1768) in Western Algerian coasts (Osteichthyes Gadidae). International Journal of Recent Research and Applied Studies 19 3 199-206.

  • Bjornsson B. Reynisson P. Solmundsson J. Valdimarsson H. (2011): Seasonal changes in migratory and predatory activity of two species of gadoid preying on inshore northern shrimp Pandalus borealis. Journal of Fish Biology 78 4 1110-1131.

  • Bowman R.E. (1986): Effect of regurgitation on stomach content data of marine fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes 16 1-3 171-181.

  • Carpentieri P. Colloca F. Cardinale M. Belluscio A. Ardizzone G.D. (2005): Feeding habits of European hake (Merluccius merluccius) in the central Mediterranean Sea. Fishery Bulletin 103 2 411-416.

  • Casti D. Scarano C. Piras M. C. Merella P. Muglia S. Piras F. Garippa G. Spanu C. Luigi De Santis E.P. (2017): Occurrence of Nematodes of the Genus Anisakis in Mediterranean and Atlantic Fish Marketed in Sardinia. Italian Journal of Food Safety 6 1 6185.

  • Chaoui L. Derbal F. Kara M. H. Quignard J. P. (2005): Alimentation et condition de la dorade Sparus aurata (Telestoei: Sparidae) dans la lagune du Mellah (Algérie Nord Est). Cahier de Biologie Marine 46 221-225.

  • Christensen V. Pauly D. (1992a): A guide to the ECOPATH II software system (version 2.1). ICLARM Software 6 72.

  • Christensen V. Pauly D. (1992b): The ECOPATH II – a software for balancing steady-state ecosystem models and calculating network characteristics. Ecological Modelling 61 169-185.

  • Claessen D. De Roos A. M. Persson L. (2004): Population dynamic theory of size-dependent cannibalism. Proceedings. Biological Sciences 271 1537 333-340.

  • Clarke M. W. (2005): A life history approach to the assessment of deep-water fisheries in the northeast Atlantic. [cited 2018 May 18]. Available from

  • Cohen D. M. Inada T. Iwamoto T. Scialabba N. (1990): FAO species catalogue: Gadiform fishes of the world. FAO Fisheries Synopsis 125 10 442.

  • Cortes E. (1998): Methods of studying fish feeding: Reply. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 55 2708.

  • D’onghia G. Lloris D. Politou C. Y. Sion L. Dokos J. (2004): New records of deep-water teleost fishes in the Balearic Sea and Ionian Sea (Mediterranean Sea). Scien-Scientia Marina 68 3 171-183.

  • Dagnelie P. (1975): Analyse statistique à plusieurs variables. Presses agronomiques de Gembloux 362.

  • DeMartini E. E. Parrish F. A. Ellis D. M. (1996): Baro-trauma associated regurgitation of food: implications for diet studies of Hawaiian pink snapper; Pristipomoides filamentosus (family Lutjanidae). Fishery Bulletin 942 250-256.

  • Dierking J. Meyer A. L. (2009): Prey regurgitation in the grouper Cephalopholis argus. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 25 5 600-602.

  • Falciai L. Minervini R. (1992): Guida dei crostacei decapodi d’Europa. Prima edizione: giugno (Eds) 282.

  • Farjallah S. Ben Slimane B. Blel H. Amor N. Said K. (2006): Anisakid parasites of two forkbeards (Phycis blennoides and Phycis phycis) from the eastern Mediterranean coasts Tunisia. Parasitology Research 100 1 11-17.

  • Fernandez-Arcaya U. Rotllant G. Ramirez-Llodra E. Recasens L. Aguzzi J. Flexas M.M. Sanchez-Vidal A. Lopez-Fernandez P. Garcia J. A. Company J. B. (2013): Reproductive biology and recruitment of the deep-sea fish community from the NW Mediterranean Continental margin. Progress in Oceanography 118 222-234.

  • Fox L. R. (1975): Cannibalism in natural populations. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 6 87-106.

  • Fritz E. S. (1974): Total diet comparison fishes by Spearman rank correlation coefficient. Copeia 1 210-215.

  • Froese R. Pauly D. (2000): Concepts design and data sources ICLARM Los Banos Laguna 344.

  • Garcia S. (2015): Phycis blennoides. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015. [cited 2018 May 2]. Available from:

  • Hassani M. M. Kerfouf A. (2014): Diversity of Nematodes from the greater forkbeard Phycis blennoides (Teleostei: Gadidae) in the Western Mediterranean Sea. International Journal of Sciences: Basic and Applied Research 18 97-103.

  • Hecht T. Pienaar A. G. (1993): A review of cannibalism and its implications in fish larviculture. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society. 24 2 246-261.

  • Justine J. L. Beveridge I. Boxshall G. A. Bray R. A. Miller T. L. Moravec F. Trilles J. P. Whittington I. D. (2012): An annotated list of fish parasites (Isopoda Copepoda Monogenea Digenea Cestoda Nematoda) collected from Snappers and Bream (Lutjanidae Nemipteridae Caesionidae) in New Caledonia confirms high parasite biodiversity on coral reef fish. Aquatic Biosystem 8 1 22.

  • Justine J. L. Beveridge I. Boxshall G. A. Bray R. A. Moravec F. Whittington I. D. (2010a): An annotated list of fish parasites (Copepoda Monogenea Digenea Cestoda and Nematoda) collected from Emperors and Emperor Bream (Lethrinidae) in New Caledonia further highlights parasite biodiversity estimates on coral reef fish. Zootaxa 2691 1-40.

  • Justine J. L. Beveridge I. Boxshall G. A. Bray R. A. Moravec F. Trilles J. P. Whittington I. D. (2010b): An annotated list of parasites (Isopoda Copepoda Monogenea Digenea Cestoda and Nematoda) collected in groupers (Serranidae Epinephelinae) in New Caledonia emphasizes parasite biodiversity in coral reef fish. Folia Parasitologica 57 4 237-262.

  • Kara M. H. Derbal F. (1996): Régime alimentaire du loup Dicentrarchus labrax (Poisson Moronidé) du golfe d’Annaba Algérie. Annales de l’Institut océanographique 72 185-194.

  • Khlifa S. Faliex E. Sasal P. Galzin E. (2013): Étude de l’infestation par des larves d’Anisakidés de trois espèces de poissons d’intérêt économique en Mauritanie. Cybium 37 1-2 39-48.

  • Klug H. (2009): Relationship between filial cannibalism egg energetic content and parental condition in the flagfish. Animal Behaviour 77 1313–1319.

  • Kouassi K. D. N’da K. Diaha N. C. (2010): Régime alimentaire du mérou blanc Epinephelus aeneus (Serranidae) de la pêche artisanale en Côte d’Ivoire. Cybium 34 3 263-268.

  • Krumsick K. J. Rose G. A. (2012): Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) feed during spawning off Newfoundland and Labrador. ICES Journal of Marine Science 69 10 1701-1709.

  • Liao H. Pierce C. L. Larsche G. J. (2001): Empirical Assessment of Indices of Prey Importance in the diets of predacious fish. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 130 583-591.

  • Macpherson E. (1978): Regimen alimentario de Phycis blennoides Brünnich y Antonogadus megalok ynodon Kolom batovic Pisces: Gadidae en el Mediterraneo occidental. Investigacion Pesquera 42 2 455-466.

  • Macpherson E. (1981): Resource partitioning in a Mediterranean demersal fish community. Marine Ecology Progress Series 4 2 183-193.

  • Magnussen E. (2011): Food and feeding habits of cod (Gadus morhua) on the Faroe Bank. ICES Journal of Marine Science 68 9 1909-1917.

  • Massuti E. Morales-Nin B. Lloris D. (1996): Bathymetric distribution and recruitment patterns of Phycis blennoides (Pisces: Gadidae) from the slope of the northwestern Mediterranean. Scientia Marina 60 4 481-488.

  • Matarrese A. D’Onghia G. Basanisi M. Mastrototaro F. (1998): Spawning and recruitment of Phycis blennoides (Phycidae) from the northwestern Ionian Sea (middle-eastern Mediterranean). Italian Journal of Zoology 65 203-209.

  • Morato T. Solà E. Grós M. P. Menezez G. (1999): Diets of forkbeard (Phycis phycis) and conger eel (Conger conger) off the Azores during spring of 1996 and 1997. Arquipélago. 17A 51-64.

  • Moravec F. Justine J. L. (2015): Anisakid nematodes (Nematoda: Anisakidae) from the marine fishes Plectropomus laevis Lacépède (Serranidae) and Sphyraena qenie Klunzinger (Sphyraenidae) off New Caledonia including two new species of Hysterothylacium Ward & Magath 1917. Systematic Parasitology 92 3 181-195.

  • Morte M. S. Redon M.J. Sanz B.A. (2002): Diet of Phycis blennoides in relation to fish size and season in the western Mediterranean. Marine Ecology 23 2 141-155.

  • Pauly D. Froese R. Sa-A P. Palomares M. L. Christensen V. Rius J. (2000): TrophLab Manual. Manila: ICLARM.

  • Pekmezci G. Z. Onuk E. E. Bolukbas C. S. Umur S. (2014): Molecular identification of Anisakis species (Nematoda: Anisakidae) from marine fishes collected in Turkish waters. Veterinary Parasitolpgy 201 1-2 82-94.

  • Pereira L. S. Agostinho A. A. Winemiller K. O. (2017): Revisiting cannibalism in fishes. Review in Fish Biology and Fisheries 27 3 499-513.

  • Philips A. E. (2012): Feeding behavior of the European hake Merluccius merluccius Linnaeus 1758 (Family: Gadidae) from Egyptian Mediterranean waters off Alexandria. Egyptian Journal of Aquatic Research 38 1 39-44.

  • Pinkas L. M. Oliphant S. Iverson L. K. (1971): Food habits of albacore bluefin tuna and bonito in Californian waters. Fish Bulletin 152 1-105.

  • Preciado I. Punzón A. Velasco F. (2015): Spatio-temporal variability in the cannibalistic behaviour of European hake Merluccius merluccius: the influence of recruit abundance and prey availability. Journal of Fish Biology 86 1319-1334.

  • Puvanendran V. Laurel V. B. Joseph A. Brown J. A. (2008): Cannibalism of Atlantic cod Gadus morhua larvae and juveniles on first-week larvae. Aquatic Biology 2 113-118.

  • Rachedi M. Derbal F. Kara M. H. (2018): Feeding habits of the comber Serranus cabrilla (Linnaeus 1758) (Teleostei Serranidae) from the gulf of Annaba (Eastern coast of Algeria) Cahier de Biology Marine 59 149-158.

  • Rosecchi E. Nouaze Y. (1987): Comparaison de cinq indices alimentaires utilisés dans l’analyse des contenus stomacaux.Revue des Travaux de l’Institut de Pêches Maritime 49 3-4 111-123.

  • Ross S. D. Gislanon H. Andersen N. G. Nielsen J. R. (2016): The diet of whiting Merlangius merlangus in the western Baltic Sea. Journal of Fish Biology 88 5 1965-1988.

  • Rotllant G. Moranta J. Massuti E. Morales-Nin B. (2002): Reproductive biology of three gadiform fish species through the Mediterranean deep-sea range (147-1850 m). Scientia Marina 66 2 157-166.

  • Sartor P. (1995): Regime alimentare di osteitti Gadiformi nel mar Tireeno settentrionale. Atti della Società Toscana de Scienze Naturali di Pisa 102 59-67.

  • Shamsi S. Poupa A. Justine J. L. (2015): Characterisation of ascaridoid larvae from marine fish off New Caledonia with description of new Hysterothylacium larval types XIII and XIV. Parasitology International 64 396-404.

  • Shannon C. E. Weaver W. (1969): The mathematical theory of communication. University of Illinois Press Urbana 125.

  • Smrzlić I. V. Valić D. Kapetanović D. Kurtović B. Teskeredžić E. (2012): Molecular Characterisation of Anisakidae Larvae from Fish in Adriatic Sea. Parasitology Research 111 2385-2391.

  • Sorbe J.C. (1977): Régime alimentaire de Phycis blennoides (Brünnich 1768) dans le sud du Golfe de Gascogne. Revue des Travaux de l’Institut de Pêches Maritime 41 3 271-281.

  • Stagioni M. Montanini S. Vallisneri M. (2011): Feeding Habits of European Hake Merluccius merluccius (Actinopterygii: Gadiformes: Merlucciidae) from the Northeastern Mediterranean Sea. Acta Ichthyologica et Piscatoria 41 4 277-284.

  • Stergiou K. I. Karpouzi V. S. (2002): Feeding habits and trophic levels of Mediterranean fish. Review in Fish Biology and Fisheries 11 217-254.

  • Sutton T. M. Cyterski M. J. Ney J. J. Duval M. C. (2004): Determination of factors influencing stomach content retention by striped bass captured using gillnets. Journal of Fish Biology 64 903-910.

  • Treasurer J. W. (1988): Measurement of regurgitation in feeding studies of predatory fishes. Journal of Fish Biology 33 2 267-271.

  • Uzars D. Plikshs M. (2000): Cod (Gadus morhua L.) cannibalism in the Central Baltic: Interannual variability and influence of recruit abundance and distribution. ICES Journal of Marine Science 57 2 324-329.

  • van den Bosch F. de Roos A. M. Gabriel W. (1988): Cannibalism as a life boat mechanism. Journal of Mathematical Biology 26 6 619-633.

  • Zaidi R. Derbal F. Kara M. H. (2017): Temporal and ontogenic variations of diet of the goldblotch grouper Epinephelus costae (Serranidae) in the eastern coast of Algeria. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 97 259-267.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.84

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.195
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.772

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 222 147 8
PDF Downloads 124 66 6