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Ranking of length-class, seasonal and regional effects on dietary compositions of the co-occurring Pagrus auratus (Sparidae) and Pseudocaranx georgianus (Carangidae)

French, B., Platell, M.E., Clarke, K.R. and Potter, I.C. (2012) Ranking of length-class, seasonal and regional effects on dietary compositions of the co-occurring Pagrus auratus (Sparidae) and Pseudocaranx georgianus (Carangidae). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 115 . pp. 309-325.

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Using an effective combination of multivariate testing and ordination analyses, this study compares the extents to which the diets of two co-occurring fish species (Pagrus auratus and Pseudocaranx georgianus) are related to body size (length class), season and region and the rank order importance of those effects. Thus, volumetric dietary compositions were determined for these species on the lower west coast of Australia, where both are abundant, and for P. auratus from the mid west coast and P. georgianus from the south coast. The diet of P. auratus on the lower west coast was strongly related to body size and slightly less to season. With increasing body size, its diet shifted from predominantly ophiuroids to larger prey, such as brachyuran crabs, teleosts, echinoids and ultimately asteroids, probably reflecting a shift from foraging over soft sediments to areas over and around reefs. Seasonal changes on the lower west coast were restricted mainly to small P. auratus, while larger fish underwent seasonal changes further north. Analyses using a common size range of medium to larger P. auratus demonstrated that dietary composition differed more between regions than seasons. The relationships between diet and length class of P. georgianus on both the lower west and south coasts were less pronounced than for P auratus and seasonal changes were restricted to the south coast, where amphipod consumption increased markedly in summer. The diet of P. georgianus was related far more to region than length class and season, with more small teleosts, small crabs, carideans and littorinids and less amphipods, isopods and small bivalves being ingested on the lower west than south coasts. Although crabs and teleosts were important typifying prey of P. auratus and P. georgianus, when co-occurring, the former predator tended to ingest greater volumes of larger and often less mobile prey. This reflects differences in dentition, jaw morphology and feeding behaviour and reduces the potential for competition for food resources. The results imply that P. auratus and P. georgianus are opportunistic feeders and that the effects of length class, season and region on dietary composition and their rank orders can vary markedly between species and for length class and season between regions for the same species.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
Publisher: Academic Press
Copyright: © 2012 Elsevier Ltd
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