Trophic ecology of coral reef gobies: interspecific, ontogenetic, and seasonal comparison of diet and feeding intensity

Hernaman, V., Probert, P.K., and Robbins, W.D. (2009) Trophic ecology of coral reef gobies: interspecific, ontogenetic, and seasonal comparison of diet and feeding intensity. Marine Biology, 156 (3). pp. 317-330.

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In fishes, a small body size may facilitate cost-effective exploitation of various primary and secondary food resources, but may pose difficulties associated with digestion of plant material and finding sufficient food in a foraging area potentially restricted by a high risk of preda-tion. We examined the trophic ecology of five common, small-bodied coral reef fish from the family Gobiidae. For each species, we determined diet composition, feeding bite rate, foraging substrate, and feeding behaviour, and examined whether diet composition and feeding bite rate changed ontogenetically and seasonally. The five species showed a diverse range of trophic modes: Amblygobius bynoensis and Amblygobius phalaena were herbivores, Valenciennea muralis was a carnivore, Asterropteryx semipunctatus a detritivore, and Istigobius goldmanni an omnivore. Both the herbivores and detritivore supplemented their diet with animal material. The consumption of a wide range of dietary resources by the two smallest species with the most restricted mobility (A. semipunctatus and I. goldmanni) may ensure energy requirements are met within a restricted foraging area. There was a significant difference in mean feeding bite rate among species, with carnivore > herbivore > omnivore > detritivore. None of the species exhibited an ontogenetic shift in diet composition or increase in feeding bite rate, indicating that (1) post-maturation growth is not facilitated by a higher quality diet or increased feeding intensity following maturation, and (2) their small body size does not preclude herbivory. The herbivores had the highest gut: fish length ratio, which may facilitate plant digestion. While diet did not change seasonally, the mean feeding bite rate was significantly lower in winter than summer for four of the study species.

Item ID: 5645
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1793
Keywords: tropical biology, marine science, goby, feeding, dietary analysis, tropical ecology, OIRS
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2009 03:48
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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