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Feeding ecology and habitat preferences of the catfish genus Trichomycterus in low‐order streams of the Colombian Andes

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Six lower order streams in the south‐west of Colombia were sampled on a monthly basis in order to determine the status of Trichomycterus species in relation to their food supply (macroinvertebrates), and physico‐chemical habitat. Fishes were sampled by electrofishing and samples taken for dietary analysis. Macroinvertebrates were collected using a Surber sampler. Trichomycterus spp. populations were present in all streams in habitats ranging from soft to hard substrata and from relatively stagnant waters to fast flowing streams. The average density of the fishes ranged from 0·06 to 1·14 individuals m−2 with peaks in population corresponding to recruitment of individuals of <1 g. Trichomycterus spp. were found to be benthic carnivores with a diet mostly of aquatic insects. The index of relative importance for the dietary items was 35·0, 10·5, 1·9 and 7·8% for Chironomidae, Trichoptera, Ephemeroptera and Oligochaeta respectively. Combined with physical habitat data, ordinations of fishes and macroinvertebrate data suggested that differences in abundance among sites were driven by stream size and flow regime, indicating dominance of the physical habitat, although a high correlation between Trichomycterus spp. and Chironomidae abundances (r = 0·81, P = 0·049) was also recorded.

Keywords: Andean streams; Trichomycterus; feeding; habitat

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Centre for Research on Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems, CIPAV, P. O. Box 20591, Cali, Colombia, 2: Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, U.K. and 3: Departamento de Biología, Universidad del Valle, Calle 13 100-00, Cali, Colombia

Publication date: 2006-04-01

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