Examination of the diet of two sympatric species of seastar, Bathybiaster vexillifer and Plutonaster bifrons from approximately 2200 m depth in the Rockall Trough, NE Atlantic Ocean (approximately 57-degrees 18'N; 10-degrees 28'W), suggested that diet may determine the different reproductive patterns found between these two species. In the non-seasonally breeding B. vexillifer, the diet showed a high Shannon-Wiener prey diversity index, the dominant prey being the irregular echinoid Hemiaster expergitus together with a variety of prosobranch gastropods and protobranch bivalves. By contrast, the prey diversity in the seasonally breeding P. bifrons was significantly lower than that of B. vexillifer. In addition, organic carbon content in the sediment residue in the stomachs of P. bifrons displayed a seasonal cycle, while no such seasonality was detected in B. vexillifer. The stomachs of P. bifrons also contained a higher proportion of scavenged material, including the seasonally available remains of mesopelagic blue whiting. These data, together with ''Bathysnap'' (time-lapse camera) observations of feeding behaviour in both species, suggest that B. vexillifer is a predator feeding deep in the sediment, whereas P. bifrons feeds close to the sediment surface where it is affected by the seasonal availability of phytodetritus and fish carcasses.
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 1993|
- Marine & Freshwater Biology