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Diet and trophic plasticity of an herbivorous blenny Scartella cristata of subtropical rocky shores

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The goals of the present study were to investigate the feeding rates of Scartella cristata, accounting for different water temperature regimes, and to analyse spatial and seasonal variations in its diet. The feeding rate of S. cristata was higher in warmer waters and was not correlated with season. A typical herbivorous diel feeding pattern was observed, with a steady increase in bite rate throughout the morning until a plateau in the early afternoon, followed by an abrupt decrease until the end of the daylight period. The gut contents of S. cristata included at least 41 different items. Detritus and algae (mainly filamentous) comprised most of the bulk of S. cristata's diet. Scartella cristata also exhibited significant seasonal and spatial variability in its diet. This study highlights the importance of detritus within the epilithic algal matrix in the diet of S. cristata and pinpoints that, as in coral reefs, the detrital pathway exerts an important role in the trophodynamics of subtropical rocky shores where these fish are abundant.

Keywords: Arraial do Cabo; Blenniidae; Scartella cristata; detritivory; diet; herbivory

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Departamento de Biologia Marinha, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal Fluminense, CP: 100.644, CEP 24001-970, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Publication date: 2009-11-01

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