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Quantitative diet analysis of four mesopredators from a coral reef

Ashworth, E.C., Depczynski, M., Holmes, T. H. and Wilson, S. K. (2014) Quantitative diet analysis of four mesopredators from a coral reef. Journal of Fish Biology, 84 (4). pp. 1031-1045.

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The diets of four common mesopredator fishes were examined in the back-reef habitat of a subtropical fringing reef system during the summer months. Quantitative gut content analyses revealed that crustaceans, represented >60% of ingested prey (% mass) by the latticed sand-perch Parapercis clathrata, brown dottyback Pseudochromis fuscus and half-moon grouper Epinephelus rivulatus. Dietary analyses also provided insights into ontogenetic shifts. Juvenile P. fuscus ingested large numbers of crustaceans (amphipods and isopods); these small prey were rarely found in larger individuals (<1% of ingested mass). Fishes also made an important contribution to the diets of all three species representing 10-30% of ingested mass. Conversely, the sand lizardfish Synodus dermatogenys fed exclusively on fishes including clupeids, gobies and labrids. Differences in the gut contents of the four species recorded were not apparent using stable isotope analysis of muscle tissues. The similarity of δ13C values in muscle tissues suggested that carbon within prey was derived from primary producers, with comparable carbon isotope signatures to corals and macroalgae, whilst similarities in δ15N values indicated that all four species belonged to the same trophic level. Thus, interspecific differences between mesopredator diets were undetectable when using stable isotope analysis which suggests that detailed elucidation of trophic pathways requires gut content analyses.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc
Copyright: © 2014 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.
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