, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 365-374

Nocturnal foraging habitats of French and bluestriped grunts, Haemulon flavolineatum and H. sciurus, at Tobacco Caye, Belize

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Nocturnal foraging habitats of Haemulon flavolineatum and H. sciurus were investigated in the backreef habitat around Tobacco Caye, Belize. Grunts leave the reef at dusk to forage in the grass beds and sand flats surrounding the reef. The hypothesis that French and bluestriped grunts use separate foraging habitats was examined by following tagged fishes from their diurnal territories or schooling sites to nocturnal foraging grounds. The tag consisted of a small, glowing Cyalume light stick sutured to the dorsal musculature of the fish, next to the first dorsal fin. Surveys of foraging habitats were done to support the tracking study. Large quadrats (225 m2) were set out over the sand flats and grass beds during the day. The numbers of French and bluestriped grunts feeding in each habitat were counted one hour after dark. Foraging French grunts used sand flats, whereas bluestriped grunts usually fed in grass beds. Repeated sightings of two French grunts and one bluestriped grunt in the same individual night-time locations support the hypothesis that nocturnal foraging sites may be used repeatedly by the same individuals.