Assessing the importance of cephalopods in the diets of marine mammals and other top predators: problems and solutions

Maria Begona Santos Vazquez, M. R. Clarke, Graham John Pierce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Citations (Scopus)


The methodology typically used in the analysis of predator diets is subject to a range of errors and biases and these are reviewed in relation to estimating the consumption of cephalopods by top predators. Further uncertainties, relating to population size estimation, predator energy requirements and sojourn time in the study area are encountered when estimating population consumption.

We review the use of such data to predict consumption of cephalopods by certain top predators globally, in the Antarctic, the Azores and in the North Atlantic. The traditional approach is based on the derivation of "minimum" and "maximum" estimates. We illustrate an alternative approach for calculating confidence limits for estimates, based on bootstrap simulations, for sperm whales in the northern Northeast Atlantic.

While the resulting confidence limits may appear discouragingly wide, computations such as those used here are useful for showing where data are most imperfect and for setting future research priorities. Even at present, within distinctly prescribed geographic areas, where populations are well known, such modelling of species interactions may be productive. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-139
Number of pages18
JournalFisheries Research
Issue number1-2
Early online date15 May 2001
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001


  • cephalopods
  • top predators
  • marine mammals
  • diet
  • food consumption
  • fisheries
  • whales physeter-macrocephalus
  • seals phoca-vitulina
  • harbor porpoises
  • stomach contents
  • Moray-Firth
  • fur seals
  • seasonal-variation
  • phocoena-phocoena
  • delphinus-delphis
  • common dolphins


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing the importance of cephalopods in the diets of marine mammals and other top predators: problems and solutions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this