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Partitioning of habitat and prey by abundant and similar-sized species of the triglidae and pempherididae (Teleostei) in coastal waters

Platell, M.E. and Potter, I.C. (1999) Partitioning of habitat and prey by abundant and similar-sized species of the triglidae and pempherididae (Teleostei) in coastal waters. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 48 (2). pp. 235-252.

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The aim of this study was to determine whether certain co-occurring and abundant species of the teleost families Triglidae and Pempherididae are segregated spatially and/or by diet, and are thus less likely to be susceptible to competition for resources. Nocturnal otter trawling in shallow (5-15 m) and deeper (20-35 m) waters in four regions along ~200 km of the south-western Australian coastline collected large numbers of a wide size range of the triglids Lepidotrigla modesta and Lepidotrigla papilio and the pempheridids Pempheris klunzingeri and Parapriacanthus elongatus. Although these four species frequently co-occurred at several sites, each species attained its highest density at different sites, thereby representing a partial segregation of these species by habitat. This even occurred with the congeneric triglid species, with L. modesta being most abundant in the four deep, offshore sites, while L. papilio was most numerous at three sites which varied in depth and distance from shore. Although triglids and pempheridids both consumed substantial amounts of amphipods and mysids, only the members of the latter family ingested a large amount of errant polychaetes. The latter difference is assumed to reflect the fact that, in comparison with triglids, pempheridids can swim faster, have a mouth adapted for feeding upwards in the water column and feed at night when errant polychaetes emerge from the substratum. Although the dietary compositions of L. modesta and L. papilio did not differ significantly when analyses were based on dietary data for all sites, they did differ significantly when analyses were restricted to dietary data obtained when both species were abundant and co-occurred. The likelihood of competition for food is thus reduced in the latter circumstances. In comparison with P. klunzingeri, P. elongatus consumed a relatively larger volume of amphipods and a relatively smaller volume of mysids, which are more mobile, implying that P. elongatus feeds to a greater extent on rather than above the substratum surface. The diets of all species underwent ontogenetic changes, which were particularly marked in P. klunzingeri where an increase in body size was accompanied by a reduced consumption of mysids and an increased ingestion of errant polychaetes and amphipods. The fact that L. modesta, L. papilio, P. klunzingeri and P. elongatus are partially segregated by habitat and feed on suites of prey which differ in composition, allied with an interfamilial difference in the time of feeding, would reduce the likelihood of competition for resources amongst these four species, when they co-occur and are abundant. Furthermore, ontogenetic changes in diet would reduce the potential for intraspecific competition for food.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Academic Press
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