Amphipod-supported food web: Themisto gaudichaudii, a key food resource for fishes in the southern Patagonian Shelf.

Published in Journal of Sea Research, v. 67(1)

Padovani, L.N., Vi nas, M.D., Sánchez, F. and Mianzan, H.

Publication year 2012
  • Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero (INIDEP), Paseo V. Ocampo No. 1, Mar del Plata, B7602HSA, Argentina
  • Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina
  • Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina


IAI Program


IAI Project CRN3070


  • Trophic role of the amphipod T. gaudichaudii was assessed in Patagonian food web.
  • T. gaudichaudii was preyed by 17 of 38 fish, being the main prey for 5 of them.
  • These five species account for 85% of the fish biomass in the area.
  • Results show that T. gaudichaudii may largely support the fish community.
  • T. gaudichaudii would act as a “wasp-waist” species in southern Patagonian shelf.


The trophic role of the hyperiid amphipod Themisto gaudichaudii in the southern Patagonian shelf food web was assessed from the analysis of stomach contents of the local fish assemblage. A total of 461 trawl samples were collected during seven seasonal cruises. A total of 17 out of 38 fish species were found to ingest T. gaudichaudii. This amphipod was a main prey item in five of these species, showing high values of alimentary index: Seriolella porosa (99.9%), Macruronus magellanicus (68.8%), Micromesistius australis (59.1%), Patagonotothen ramsayi (48.6%), and Merluccius hubbsi (10.9%). The contribution of T. gaudichaudii, in weight, to their summer diet was 60%, on average. This contribution was minimal in winter and maximal in summer. Fisheries studies have indicated that these five species, mainly M. magellanicus, account for almost 85% of the fish biomass in the area. Although the remaining 15% did not feed heavily on T. gaudichaudii, they are known to prey on the main hyperiid predators. Our study shows that T. gaudichaudii contributes greatly, both directly and indirectly, to supporting the fish community. We thus proposed that T. gaudichaudii plays a key role as a &ldquowasp-waist&rdquo species in the sub-Antarctic region, similar to that of krill in Antarctic waters, channeling the energy flow and enabling a short and efficient food chain.