a1 Institut de Ciències del Mar, Passeig Joan de Borbó, s/n, 08039 Barcelona, Spain
Food resource partitioning and trends in feeding strategies were examined in 3882 individual decapod crustaceans collected from 1989 to 1990, using bottom trawls at depths between 380 and 2261 m in the Catalan Sea (western Mediterranean). The vertical distribution of available food resources near the bottom was the most important factor responsible for food resource partitioning among bathyal decapod crustaceans by depth stratum and season. Decapods were assigned to five different trophic groups according to the food resource exploited and feeding strategy employed (macroplankton feeders, macroplankton-epibenthic feeders, epibenthic feeders, epibenthic-endobenthic feeders, and deposit feeders). There was little dietary overlap, indicating that species did partition the available resources. Overall, dietary overlap values among species increased with depth. Although a trend to increase H’ values for diets with depth was observed, this was not significant (P < 0.10), whereas differences in the percentage of empty stomachs and the frequency of foraminiferans and pteropods in the foreguts increased significantly (P < 0.05) with depth. This last result is indicative of a progressive increase in the importance of deposit feeding in decapod crustaceans as depth increases.