Alimentación de la anchoíta argentina (Engraulis anchoita Hubbs y Marini, 1935)(Pisces: Clupeiformes) durante la época reproductiva
Northern and southern populations of Engraulis anchoita spawn during spring and early summer in the coastal and intermediate shelf regions of the Argentine Sea between 34°S-41°S and 41°S-48°S respectively. Samples were obtained in 8 research surveys carried out during the spawning peak of the species. In both populations, more than 70. of the stomachs analyzed were empty or with scarce food. In plankton samples taken copepods predominated in the whole reproductive area. However, densities (41,000 individuals m-2)were lower than those found on the external shelf. Distribution and number of preys observed in the stomach content were associated to the distribution and abundance of plankton organisms. When comparing coastal and shelf regions it was noted that 77. of the total copepods ingested by both anchovy populations were depredated in the Patagonian area. Time spent on feeding ranged from 11-13 h, from 3.30-6.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., with an unclear peak around 4.00-5.00 p.m. This behaviour would be a consequence of the lower food density available in the reproductive habitat and the time schools spend on reproduction. The results imply that schools of E. anchoita are in a continuous search for food in the reproductive area, that they have short feeding migrations offshore and return to the coastal region to continue spawning.