Yves Cherel

Who eats whom in the Southern Ocean?

My research work began in 1982 by wintering during 14 months at the Crozet Islands to study the metabolic and hormonal adaptations to prolonged fasting in penguins. This ecophysiological approach was the subject of my PhD thesis (1985) and was then continued on different field and laboratory animal models with the aim to better understand how birds and mammals manage their energy reserves during their annual cycle. In the early 1990s, I shifted to ecology, with an initial scientific focus on the food and feeding strategies of seabirds and marine mammals from the Southern Ocean (see below).

CNRS Research Director – Marine Predators Team yves.cherel(at)cebc.cnrs.fr
Tel + 33 (0)5 49 09 78 35


Research programs: Pelagic ecosystem, trophic resources and feeding strategies of marine predators

Resource Acquisition Strategies

– Spatial and temporal variations in feeding strategies. – Trophic segregation between sympatric species and within bird and marine mammal communities.

Pelagic resources of the Southern Ocean

– Determination of key food web species from predator diets and from sampling of the marine environment. – Quantification of the impact of predators on marine resources.


– Use of predators as samplers of the pelagic ecosystem to acquire information on the biology of their prey (e.g. squid). – Use of predators to monitor the health of marine ecosystems (contaminants such as heavy metals and organic pollutants).

Methods used

– Direct method of diet analysis by determination of prey in stomach contents (birds) or feces (fur seals). Identification is based on undigested remains: exoskeletons of crustaceans, beaks of cephalopods, and bones and otoliths of fish. – Indirect methods by using marine lipids and especially of stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen as trophic indicators.