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Free Content Foraging and Reproduction of Two Caribbean Reef Toadfishes (Batrachoididae)

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Amphichthys cryptocentrus and Sanopus barbatus were studied in the San Blas Archipelago, off the Caribbean coast of Panama. Both species occupy burrows in sand areas in and immediately adjacent to coral reefs. Daily censuses of 9 tagged A. cryptocentrus and 24 tagged burrows in a 45x50 m study area showed that individuals vary in the duration of time spent in a particular burrow: most fish move to another burrow every 3 days but some fish remain in the same burrow for up to 6 months. Ten burrows that were never occupied during the survey were also tagged and censused daily; these burrows had been used by toad fish before our censusing began. An average of 58% of the 24 known burrows was unoccupied on any census day. A fish can excavate a new burrow in about 1 day although they do so only rarely.

Both toadfishes feed primarily on the abundant urchin, Diadema antillarum. The guts of 40 out of 48 fishes had at least one urchin bolus and contained little other food. Using predation rates and the population density of A. cryptocentrus, we estimate that this species may consume 20,000 urchins/ha/yr. However, the impact of toadfish predation on urchin populations in Panama remains undetermined. Live urchins were fewer in number near burrows occupied by A. cryptocentrus than near unoccupied burrows. This distribution may result from toadfish predation or the movement of urchins away from injured or preyed-upon conspecifics.

Free-swimming juveniles were found in the burrows of adult male A. cryptocentrus. This association is known in three other toadfishes but is uncommon in marine teleosts.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1983-10-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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