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Factors influencing the diets of four morphologically divergent fish species in nearshore marine waters

Hourston, M., Platell, M.E., Valesini, F.J. and Potter, I.C. (2004) Factors influencing the diets of four morphologically divergent fish species in nearshore marine waters. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, 84 (4). pp. 805-817.

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The dietary compositions of Atherinomorus ogilbyi (Atherinidae), Sillago schomburgkii (Sillaginidae), Lesueurina platycephala (Leptoscopidae) and Ammotretis elongatus (Pleuronectidae) in three nearshore habitats on the lower west coast of Australia, which varied in their exposure to wave energy and the extent to which they contain sea grass, have been determined. The dietary compositions of these four abundant teleosts differed, reflecting marked differences between the location in the water column, head and mouth morphology and feeding behaviour of these species. Atherinomorus ogilbyi, which has a relatively high and large mouth, fed mainly on planktonic invertebrates in the water column, while S. schomburgkii ingested predominantly benthic prey, such as polychaetes and bivalves, which it extracted from the sediment using its downward-protruding mouth. Lesueurina platycephala employed its large mouth, cryptic coloration and ambush feeding to target relatively large teleosts and invertebrates, while the small mouth and flattened body of Ammotretis elongatus facilitated the ingestion of small crustacean prey, e.g. cumaceans and amphipods, which live on the substrate surface. Atherinomorus ogilbyi consumed predominantly calanoid copepods, cladocerans and insects during the day and mainly amphipods at night, when the latter taxon became abundant in the water column. The dietary composition of each species underwent a similar pattern of size-related change, being most pronounced in L. platycephala during the day. The diets of A. ogilbyi and S. schomburgkii, the two species for which the data were most comprehensive, differed among habitats and seasons, reflecting differences in the densities of their main prey. Comparisons between the day-time diets of the above four species with those recorded previously for a further four abundant species in the same habitats during the day, show that food resources are well distributed among the main fish species in nearshore waters along the lower west coast of Australia. This feature, together with the size-related changes in the diets of the different species, reduces the potential for inter-and intraspecific competition for food by fish species in this environment.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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