Ontogenetic Dietary Shifts and Food Selection of Endemic Squalius Carolitertii (Actinopterygii: Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae) in River Tormes, Central Spain, in Summer
Abstract:Background. The northern Iberian chub Squalius carolitertii (Doadrio, 1988) is a small endemic cyprinid inhabiting the rivers of the Iberian Peninsula. The knowledge of feeding patterns is essential to understand the ecological role of fish populations, helping to the development of conservation and management plans. The aim of the present study was to analyze the ontogenetic dietary shifts and food selection of S. carolitertii, contributing to knowledge of the feeding behaviour of this fish species.
Materials and methods. Diet composition of S. carolitertii was compared to benthos and drift composition in a river of Central Spain (Ávila, River Tormes) using selectivity indices of Ivlev and Savage. The age of 57 S. carolitertii collected in August 2010 was determined by scale reading and by length frequency analyses (LFA) with the Petersen method. Maximum length of benthos, drift and prey invertebrates was measured for each item to establish whether prey-size selection depends upon the size-frequency distribution of available prey.
Results. Detritus were found in 33 fish (57.9% of occurrence). Nymphs of Baetis spp. were the most abundant prey (46.6%) and were identified in the 49.1% of the stomachs. Moreover, Baetis spp. was selected positively from the benthos and drift by all age classes. Abundant potential prey items such as Epeorus spp. in the benthos and Simuliidae in the drift were negatively selected. Individuals without detritus in the gut contained more animal prey items than individuals with a dominance of detritus, and the frequency of occurrence of detritus decreased with the age. Mean prey size increased with fish size (r = 0.646, P < 0.001).
Conclusion. Age-related diet shifts occur at three different levels: (1) frequency of occurrence of detritus decreases with fish age; (2) prey selection varied with fish age; and (3) mean prey size increased as fish size increased. The rejection of Epeorus spp. and Simuliidae suggests that other factors, apart of prey abundance, including sitespecific prey accessibility, prey size, energetic selection criteria and prey preference of fishes play an important role in feeding behaviour of S. carolitertii. Prey-size selection is probably dependent on the size-frequency distribution of the available prey.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2012
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