Feeding ecology of broadbill swordfish (Xiphias gladius) in the California current

Antonella Preti* (Corresponding Author), Stephen M Stohs, Gerard T DiNardo, Camilo Saavedra, Ken MacKenzie, Leslie R Noble, Catherine S Jones, Graham J Pierce

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The feeding ecology of broadbill swordfish (Xiphias gladius) in the California Current was described based on analysis of stomach contents collected by fishery observers aboard commercial drift gillnet boats from 2007 to 2014. Prey were identified to the lowest taxonomic level and diet composition was analyzed using univariate and multivariate methods. Of 299 swordfish sampled (74 to 245 cm eye-to-fork length), 292 non-empty stomachs contained remains from 60 prey taxa. Genetic analyses were used to identify prey that could not be identified visually. Diet consisted mainly of cephalopods but also included epipelagic and mesopelagic teleosts. Jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas) and Gonatopsis borealis were the most important prey based on the geometric index of importance. Swordfish diet varied with body size, location and year. Jumbo squid, Gonatus spp. and Pacific hake (Merluccius productus) were more important for larger swordfish, reflecting the ability of larger specimens to catch large prey. Jumbo squid, Gonatus spp. and market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) were more important in inshore waters, while G. borealis and Pacific hake predominated offshore. Jumbo squid was more important in 2007-2010 than in 2011-2014, with Pacific hake being the most important prey item in the latter period. Diet variation by area and year probably reflects differences in swordfish preference, prey availability, prey distribution, and prey abundance. The range expansion of jumbo squid that occurred during the first decade of this century may particularly explain their prominence in swordfish diet during 2007-2010. Some factors (swordfish size, area, time period, sea surface temperature) that may influence dietary variation in swordfish were identified. Standardizing methods could make future studies more comparable for conservation monitoring purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0258011
Number of pages29
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number2
Early online date16 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2023


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