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Diets of reef-dwelling labrids (Choerodon species) vary with body size, season and habitat: influence of foraging ability, specialization and opportunism

Lek, E., Platell, M.E., Fairclough, D.V., Hall, N.G. and Potter, I.C. (2018) Diets of reef-dwelling labrids (Choerodon species) vary with body size, season and habitat: influence of foraging ability, specialization and opportunism. Journal of Fish Biology, 92 (4). pp. 901-928.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.13541
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Abstract

Contemporary multivariate statistics were used to test the hypotheses that the dietary compositions of three populations of labrids on the west Australian coast are related to body size and undergo seasonal changes and to elucidate the relative extents and basis for any dietary differences within and between those populations. Gut content analyses determined the dietary compositions of Choerodon rubescens in marine waters of the outer reefs in the World Heritage Area of Shark Bay (26° S; 114° E) and of Choerodon schoenleinii in inner protected reefs of that large embayment. The dietary compositions of C. rubescens and C. schoenleinii differed significantly among length classes, progressed serially with increasing body size, both overall and almost invariably in each season and were more closely related to body size than season, whose effect was at best minimal. The size‐related dietary change in C. rubescens involved, in particular, a shift from crustaceans and non‐mytilid bivalves to mytilid bivalves and echinoid echinoderms. Although the diet of C. schoenleinii followed similar size‐related changes, it contained a greater volume of gastropods when the fish were small and mytilids when large and only a small volume of echinoids. The dietary composition of C. rubescens in the Abrolhos Islands, 300 km to the south of Shark Bay, was related both to length class and season and differed from that of this labrid in Shark Bay with the ingestion of lesser volumes of mytilids and greater volumes of echinoids. The size‐related changes in diet imply that these species shift from foraging over soft substrata to over reefs as their very well‐developed jaws become sufficiently strong to remove attached and larger prey. The dietary compositions of C. rubescens and C. schoenleinii in Shark Bay and of C. rubescens at the Abrolhos Islands were related far more to habitat–locational differences than to length class and season. The above intraspecific and interspecific differences in diet are consistent with qualitative accounts of the relative abundances of the main prey in their respective environments, supporting the view that, despite specializations in their feeding apparatus, these labrids can feed opportunistically to a certain extent and could thus potentially respond to moderate changes in the composition of their prey caused by climate change and other anthropogenic effects.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc
Copyright: © 2018 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/40836
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