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Comparisons between the influences of habitat, body size and season on the dietary composition of the sparid Acanthopagrus latus in a large marine embayment

Platell, M.E., Ang, H.P., Hesp, S.A. and Potter, I.C. (2007) Comparisons between the influences of habitat, body size and season on the dietary composition of the sparid Acanthopagrus latus in a large marine embayment. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 72 (4). pp. 626-634.

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Seasonal samples from Shark Bay on the west coast of Australia were used to determine (1) the habitats occupied by the juveniles and adults of Acanthopagrus latus in this large subtropical marine embayment and (2) the extent to which the dietary composition of this sparid is influenced by habitat type, body length and season. Sampling was undertaken in two habitat types in which A. latus was known to be abundant, namely mangrove (Avicennia marina) creeks and nearby rocky areas, the latter comprising sandstone boulders and/or limestone reefs. The mean total length ±95% CLs of A. latus was far lower in mangrove creeks, 126 ± 6.1 mm, than in rocky areas, 313 ± 4.7 mm. As A. latus attains maturity at ca. 245 mm, the juveniles of this species typically occupy mangrove areas and then, with increasing body size, move to nearshore rocky areas, where they become adults. The species composition of the food ingested by juvenile A. latus in mangrove creeks differed markedly from that of large juveniles and adults in rocky areas. Based on analyses of data for both habitat types combined, this difference was far greater than that between size classes and season, which was negligible. There were indications, however, that, overall within each habitat, the dietary composition did change seasonally, although not with body size. Acanthopagrus latus fed predominantly on mangrove material, sesarmid crabs and small gastropods in mangrove habitats, and mainly on Brachidontes ustulatus in rocky areas, where this mytilid bivalve is very abundant. The mangrove material, which contributed nearly 40% of its overall dietary volume in mangrove creeks, consisted mainly of lateral root primordia. This apparently unique food source for a teleost is presumably ingested through subsurface nipping, which would be facilitated by the mouth and dentitional characteristics of sparids. The almost total lack of correspondence in the dietary compositions of fish in the length class that was well represented in both mangrove and rocky areas illustrates the extent to which this sparid is capable of opportunistic feeding behaviour.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Academic Press
Copyright: © 2007 Elsevier Ltd.
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