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Assessing the overlap between the diet of a coastal shark and the surrounding prey communities in a sub-tropical embayment

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An elasmobranch survey of sub-tropical Hervey Bay, Australia, captured the slit-eye shark Loxodon macrorhinus at only one of three sites sampled. The dietary composition of this small shark species was compared to the prey communities within Hervey Bay to test whether prey availability was driving this observation. Dietary analysis of prey groups revealed that teleosts dominated the diet, per cent index of relative importance, % IRI (79·5%) and per cent geometric index of importance, % GII (52·7%), with shrimp-like invertebrates and cephalopods identified as the most important invertebrate prey groups. Baited remote underwater video (BRUV) used to sample prey communities at each site, demonstrated a highly diverse and significantly different community composition among the sites. There was no significant overlap between the diet of L. macrorhinus and any of the prey communities detected by BRUVs according to one-way analysis of similarities and the simplified Morisita index. Habitat electivity analysis revealed affinity of L. macrorhinus for the site with the highest water clarity (Secchi disc depth), opposing that of three other shark species. Overall, the results suggest that the distribution of L. macrorhinus is not driven by prey availability but other factors such as water clarity, predator avoidance or a reduction in interspecies competition.

Keywords: BRUV; Carcharhinidae; Loxodon macrorhinus; habitat; turbidity

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane 4072, Australia 2: School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane 4072, Australia

Publication date: 2011-05-01

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