Dietary niche differentiation of five sympatric species of Platycephalidae

Lachlan M. Barnes, Melen Leclerc, Charles A. Gray, Jane E. Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The dietary composition and partitioning of food resources between five sympatric species of Platycephalidae inhabiting the coastal waters of New South Wales, Australia was investigated. Samples were collected monthly between March and November 2007 onboard commercial ocean prawn trawlers based in the ports of Yamba and Newcastle. Monthly percentage weight contribution of 12 prey categories was analysed to determine if diet was influenced by the variables: species, location, depth, size and maturity. Of the 959 stomachs from the five species examined, 28-54% contained prey. All Platycephalid species primarily consumed teleosts, however the diversity of prey and the proportion each prey type contributed to the overall diet varied substantially between species. Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus, P. longispinis, P. richardsoni and Ambiserrula jugosa were generalist carnivores and consumed prey from a wide variety of phyla including teleosts, crustaceans, polychaetes, molluscs and echinoderms. In contrast, Ratabulus diversidens were primarily piscivorous. Partitioning of prey resources between species was more evident in waters at Yamba than at Newcastle. Differences in diet between locations were considered a result of differential prey exploitation rather than shifts in the suite of prey consumed. Dietary composition was observed to be influenced by size, maturity status and depth however these differences were not observed for all species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-441
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes
Volume90
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

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