Integrating complementary methods to improve diet analysis in fishery‐targeted species

Matley, Jordan K., Maes, Gregory E., Devloo-Delva, Floriaan, Huerlimann, Roger, Chua, Gladys, Tobin, Andrew J., Fisk, Aaron T., Simpfendorfer, Colin A., and Heupel, Michelle R. (2018) Integrating complementary methods to improve diet analysis in fishery‐targeted species. Ecology and Evolution, 8 (18). pp. 9503-9515.

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Developing efficient, reliable, cost‐effective ways to identify diet is required to understand trophic ecology in complex ecosystems and improve food web models. A combination of techniques, each varying in their ability to provide robust, spatially and temporally explicit information can be applied to clarify diet data for ecological research. This study applied an integrative analysis of a fishery‐targeted species group—Plectropomus spp. in the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia, by comparing three diet‐identification approaches. Visual stomach content analysis provided poor identification with ~14% of stomachs sampled resulting in identification to family or lower. A molecular approach was successful with prey from ~80% of stomachs identified to genus or species, often with several unique prey in a stomach. Stable isotope mixing models utilizing experimentally derived assimilation data, identified similar prey as the molecular technique but at broader temporal scales, particularly when prior diet information was incorporated. Overall, Caesionidae and Pomacentridae were the most abundant prey families (>50% prey contribution) for all Plectropomus spp., highlighting the importance of planktivorous prey. Less abundant prey categories differed among species/color phases indicating possible niche segregation. This study is one of the first to demonstrate the extent of taxonomic resolution provided by molecular techniques, and, like other studies, illustrates that temporal investigations of dietary patterns are more accessible in combination with stable isotopes. The consumption of mainly planktivorous prey within this species group has important implications within coral reef food webs and provides cautionary information regarding the effects that changing resources could have in reef ecosystems.

Item ID: 56059
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: coral reef, coral trout, diet, fisheries, metabarcoding, next-generation sequencing, Plectropomus, stable isotopes, stomach contents
Copyright Information: © 2018 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Funders: National Environmental Research Program (NERP), Australian Research Council (ARC), James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub Project 6.1, ARC Future Fellowship #FT100101004
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2018 08:14
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3005 Fisheries sciences > 300502 Aquaculture and fisheries stock assessment @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830204 Wild Caught Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
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