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Variability in diet and foraging behaviour between sexes and ploidy forms of the hybridogenetic Squalius alburnoides complex (Cyprinidae) in the Guadiana River basin, Portugal

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Samples of the Squalius alburnoides complex, a hybridogenetic Iberian minnow composed of diploid, triploid and, less commonly, tetraploid forms, were collected from a tributary of the Ardila River (Guadiana River basin) between February 1999 and January 2001. Seasonal variation in diet was evident, and was probably linked to prey availability. Distinct foraging behaviours between ploidy forms were found towards several prey items, suggesting that diploid adult males fed mostly near the surface, whereas diploid adult females tended to feed near the bottom and submerged vegetation. Triploid females exhibited an intermediate foraging behaviour, although there was greater affinity towards diploid male feeding behaviour. Diploid males which, in contrast to diploid and triploid females, have non‐hybrid genomes in the Guadiana drainage, exhibited a higher specialization for food. Despite considerable dietary overlap, there appeared to be spatial segregation of feeding niches between the three forms, especially during dry periods when prey availability was lower, which may be a strategy for diminishing competition for food. Therefore, considering asexual generalist and specialist hypotheses, it appears that the different ploidy levels are generalist, opportunistic feeders that partition the resources when limited.
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Keywords: Iberian cyprinid; diet overlap; hybrids; non‐sexual vertebrates; polyploidy

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Departamento de Biologia Animal, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, C2 – Piso 3, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal and 2: International Fisheries Institute, University of Hull, Hull, HU6 7RX, U.K.

Publication date: 2005-02-01

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