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Diet and feeding habits of predatory fishes upstream and downstream of a low-level weir

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A study investigating the influence of a low-level weir on the diets of three migratory percithyid species was undertaken on the Murrumbidgee River, Australia. A combination of fish community sampling and stomach flushing determined that Yanco Weir substantially impacted upon the abundance and feeding habits of golden perch Macquaria ambigua, Murray cod Maccullochella peelii peelii and trout cod Maccullochella macquariensis. The relative abundance of all three species was significantly greater downstream of the weir, where individuals attempting upstream migrations were obstructed. In areas of fish aggregations, some species displayed altered feeding strategies and exploited different prey taxa upstream and downstream of the weir. Diet overlap, and the proportion of individuals with empty stomachs, was also substantially greater from downstream zones. These results suggest that competition among species may be greater in areas of increased predator abundance and some species could be partitioning resources to minimize competitive interactions. Reducing accumulations of predatory species, by providing suitable fish passage facilities, would be an effective means to prevent such trophic interactions occurring at other low-level weirs.

Keywords: diet; diet overlap; migration; percichthyids; stomach flushing; weirs

Document Type: Regular Paper


Publication date: 2007-03-01

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