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Relationship between the habitat and diet of three species of atherinids and three species of gobies in a temperate Australian estuary

Humphries, P. and Potter, I.C. (1993) Relationship between the habitat and diet of three species of atherinids and three species of gobies in a temperate Australian estuary. Marine Biology, 116 (2). pp. 193-204.

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The distributions and diets of the six most abundant species of teleost in the shallows of a large south-western Australian estuary were examined from samples collected between March 1988 and February 1989. Fish were collected monthly by seine net from over bare sand and from within patchy and dense areas of the aquatic macrophyte Ruppia megacarpa. Their gut contents were compared with samples of the benthos and plankton collected from each of these three habitat types. The densities of the atherinids Leptatherina wallacei and Atherinosoma elongata and of the goby Favonigobius suppositus were greatest in dense R. megacarpa, whereas those of the atherinid L. presbyteroides and the goby F. lateralis were greatest over bare sand. The density of the goby Pseudogobius olorum was greater in patchy R. megacarpa than in the other two habitat types. The gut contents of each of the six species was dominated by crustaceans and/or polychaetes, with detritus also making a major contribution to the diet of P. olorum and F. lateralis. The relative proportions of prey items in the guts of fish in a particular habitat corresponded to the preys' relative occurrence in the environment. This indicates that the fish had been feeding predominantly in one particular habitat prior to capture. Within each habitat type, the six species partitioned the available food, the major components of the diet of each species being different. The gobiid species fed mainly on the benthos and the atherinids typically fed higher in the water column; A. elongata and P. olorum tended to be less selective as to where they foraged. There were no consistent differences in either the dietary breadth or the fullness of the guts of any species among habitat types.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag
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