Resource partitioning facilitates the coexistence of sympatric species through spatial, temporal and/or trophic strategies. Fishes living in the intertidal zone demonstrate highly adaptive plastic behaviour, including resource partitioning, through spatial and temporal shifts in diet and microhabitat. Although intertidal fish assemblages are influenced by inter- and intraspecific competition, few studies have compared the extent of resource partitioning between sympatric species in the context of trophic niche plasticity. Here we used complementary approaches, stomach content and stable isotope (δ 13C and δ 15N) analyses, to evaluate seasonal and developmental shifts in trophic niche position in two sympatric (Favonigobius lentiginosus and Bathygobius krefftii) and one allopatric (Bathygobius cocosensis) species of intertidal goby. The results indicate that resource partitioning in the two sympatric species varied with season, with almost no trophic niche overlap in summer to about ~30% overlap in winter. Also, evidence of dietary changes was found in B. cocosensis, which is likely associated with a shift in microhabitat and intraspecific competition. The findings highlight the temporal range of behavioural plasticity in trophic niche position of intertidal gobies, which likely has high adaptive value in the dynamic intertidal zone.
- resource partitioning
- stable isotopes