Trophic niche and spatio-temporal changes in the feeding ecology of two sympatric species of coral trout (Plectropomus leopardus and P-laevis)

Matley, J.K., Tobin, A.J., Simpfendorfer, C.A., Fisk, A.T., and Heupel, M.R. (2017) Trophic niche and spatio-temporal changes in the feeding ecology of two sympatric species of coral trout (Plectropomus leopardus and P-laevis). Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 563. pp. 197-210.

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Prey selection can influence interactions among species, the composition and abundance of prey, and ultimately the movement of energy within the ecosystem. Different species of the exploited coral trout Plectropomus spp. often co-occur in reef environments, but their foraging behaviour and ecological niches are largely unknown. To explore niche overlap and resource use of sympatric adult coral trout, stable isotopes (delta C-13 and delta N-15) were quantified for 3 tissues (muscle, red blood cells, and plasma) collected between August 2013 and February 2014 from P. leopardus (n = 117) and P. laevis (n = 36) at 4 reefs in eastern Australia. Bayesian standard ellipses were used to show that prey selection of P. leopardus varied considerably from P. laevis, particularly from P. laevis in the blue-spot colour phase. Size of adult individuals had little influence on d13C and d15N values for P. leopardus and both footballer and blue-spot colour phases of P. laevis. Spatiotemporal comparisons of P. leopardus trophic positions, made by adjusting baseline algae and planktonic d15N at each reef and sampling period, demonstrated that trophic positions varied in time and space, and warrants further investigation. This study highlights that sympatric species of coral trout have distinct ecological roles and will likely react differently to environmental disturbances and/or changes in habitat or prey composition.

Item ID: 50562
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0171-8630
Keywords: trophic position, resource use, niche partitioning, stable isotopes, competition, fisheries, foraging
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 4 of the following PhD thesis: Matley, Jordan Kyle (2017) Investigation of coral trout (Plectropomus spp.) movement patterns and resource use: a multidisciplinary approach using acoustic telemetry and dietary indicators. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: Australian Government's National Environmental Research Program (NERP), Australian Research Council (ARC), James Cook University, Australian Coral Reef Society (ACRS), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
Projects and Grants: NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub Project 6.1, ARC Future Fellowship #FT100101004, NSERC PGS D Scholarship
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 10:04
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 80%
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3005 Fisheries sciences > 300502 Aquaculture and fisheries stock assessment @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 70%
83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830204 Wild Caught Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 30%
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