Functional groups in piscivorous fishes

Mihalitsis, Michalis, and Bellwood, David R. (2021) Functional groups in piscivorous fishes. Ecology and Evolution, 11 (18). pp. 12765-12778.

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Piscivory is a key ecological function in aquatic ecosystems, mediating energy flow within trophic networks. However, our understanding of the nature of piscivory is limited; we currently lack an empirical assessment of the dynamics of prey capture and how this differs between piscivores. We therefore conducted aquarium-based performance experiments, to test the feeding abilities of 19 piscivorous fish species. We quantified their feeding morphology, striking, capturing, and processing behavior. We identify two major functional groups: grabbers and engulfers. Grabbers are characterized by horizontal, long-distance strikes, capturing their prey tailfirst and subsequently processing their prey using their oral jaw teeth. Engulfers strike from short distances, from high angles above or below their prey, engulfing their prey and swallowing their prey whole. Based on a meta-analysis of 2,209 published in situ predator–prey relationships in marine and freshwater aquatic environments, we show resource partitioning between grabbers and engulfers. Our results provide a functional classification for piscivorous fishes delineating patterns, which transcend habitats, that may help explain size structures in fish communities.

Item ID: 70138
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: capture, engulfer, grabber, predation, prey size, strike
Copyright Information: © 2021 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: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FL190100062, ARC CE140100020
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Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2022 05:35
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