Trophic niches through ontogeny in 12 species of Indo-Pacific marine Clupeoidei (herrings, sardines, and anchovies)

Joshua P. Egan, Sean Gibbs, Andrew M Simons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The trophic niche is an aspect of species biology that is foundational to understanding many biological processes. In coastal marine ecosystems, small schooling fishes have a large influence on food web dynamics and structure, but despite their importance, the trophic niches of many of these fishes are either completely unknown or only preliminarily described. We assembled a diet dataset for 12 species of small, coastal Indo-Pacific clupeoids (herrings, sardines, and anchovies) containing measurements of 12,401 prey items from 619 individual fish predators to address four objectives: (1) assign species to trophic guilds based upon prey-type and -size consumption, (2) identify ontogenetic shifts in prey-type and -size consumption, (3) test the hypotheses that niche breadth, measured as the range of prey sizes consumed, and relative niche breadth (ratio of niche breadth to predator size) are positively correlated with predator size, and (4) test the hypotheses that maximum prey-size consumption and relative maximum prey-size consumption (ratio of maximum prey size to predator size) are positively correlated with predator size. We identified three and five trophic guilds based upon prey types and prey sizes, respectively. Diets changed through ontogeny in nearly every species. Linear regression revealed positive correlations between niche breadth, maximum prey width, and relative maximum prey width and predator size, but did not find a statistically significant correlation between relative niche breadth and predator size. This study shows that measuring prey size in addition to prey type can offer additional, higher resolution information about fish trophic ecology. The dataset presented here will be useful for future ecological and evolutionary research and fisheries management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number153
JournalMarine Biology
Volume165
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank P. J. Hundt for helpful discussions, the 2013 Summer Institute in Taiwan staff, and our colleagues who assisted with fieldwork at National Chiayi University, Taiwan, Gao Zheng Aquaculture, Taiwan, James Cook University, Australia, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Australia, and Rajamangala University of Technology Srivijaya, Thailand. We thank the reviewers for their suggestions that improved the quality of our manuscript. This work was funded in part by the Lerner-Gray Memorial Fund for Marine Research (American Museum of Natural History), Dayton Research Fund (Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota), the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, and the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes Program from the National Science Council of Taiwan and the National Science Foundation, USA (1316912). During the preparation of this manuscript J. P. E. received financial support from a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (00039202). Reviewed by Undisclosed experts.

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We thank P. J. Hundt for helpful discussions, the 2013 Summer Institute in Taiwan staff, and our colleagues who assisted with fieldwork at National Chiayi University, Taiwan, Gao Zheng Aquaculture, Taiwan, James Cook University, Australia, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Australia, and Rajamangala University of Technology Srivijaya, Thailand. We thank the reviewers for their suggestions that improved the quality of our manuscript. This work was funded in part by the Lerner-Gray Memorial Fund for Marine Research (American Museum of Natural History), Dayton Research Fund (Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota), the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, and the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes Program from the National Science Council of Taiwan and the National Science Foundation, USA (1316912). During the preparation of this manuscript J. P. E. received financial support from a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (00039202).

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