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Free Content Ontogeny and Overlap in the Diets of Four Tropical Callinectes Species

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The diets of four Callinectes spp., Portunidae, from a small tropical lagoon were examined for ontogenetic and interspecific variation. The primary food organisms were crabs, fishes, shrimp, amphipods, bivalves, and polychaetes; but the relative importance of each varied greatly with crab species and size. Callinectes danae had the least varied diet, relatively low proportions of detritus and consumed mostly large motile prey suggesting a diet more predacious than the other three species. Callinectes sapidus had a highly diversified diet with three primary feeding types ontogenetically. Callinectes bocourti showed considerable dietary overlap with C. sapidus, and Callinectes ornatus demonstrated greatest ontogenetic variation. Crabs of small size classes showed greatest interspecific variation within comparable size classes. Dietary diversity was also greatest in small crabs and least in the largest size classes, while prey size, in terms of kind of prey, increased with crab size. Overall, few strong similarities occurred either within a species or between comparable size classes of different species. This suggests that the incorporation of size and species specific trophic information may be necessary for an understanding of community or ecosystem structure even when considering closely related species.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1990-01-01

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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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