We collected 1,399 striped bass Morone saxatilis from western Albemarle Sound, North Carolina, during May through October of 2002 and 2003 to characterize diet, prey type selectivity, and prey size selectivity. Herrings Alosa spp., Atlantic menhaden Brevoortia tyrannus, bay anchovy Anchoa mitchilli, silversides Menidia spp., and yellow perch Perca flavescens dominated the diets of age-1 striped bass, while Atlantic menhaden dominated the diets of older striped bass. Selectivity was calculated for three categories of striped bass (ages 1, 2, and 3 + [3-7]) based on fish prey collections from a 61-m beach seine and a 76-m purse seine. Striped bass of all ages primarily consumed fish prey regardless of the month or year. Each age category of striped bass selected for one or more species of prey from the suborder Clupeoidei. Age-1 striped bass selectivity of Alosa spp. generally increased with the progression of each sampling season, whereas selectivity for Atlantic menhaden, Menidia spp., and yellow perch decreased over time within each season. Striped bass of all ages displayed strong selection for Atlantic menhaden and strong selection against spiny-rayed fish prey. Striped bass displayed selection for specific prey, although the mechanisms responsible for selection appear to vary through time and may differ for different prey types. Striped bass either displayed neutral size selectivity or selected for relatively small prey. The mean and maximum sizes of fish prey increased with increases in striped bass size, but the minimum prey size changed little. Our results of seasonal and age-specific changes in selectivity will be valuable for modeling the impact of striped bass predation on resource prey species. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2005.
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Prey selectivity and diet of striped bass in Western Albemarle Sound, North Carolina