, Volume 105, Issue 3, pp 363-374

Diets of piscivorous fishes in a tropical Australian estuary, with special reference to predation on penaeid prawns

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Abstract

The diets of fish from the tropical Embley Estuary in the eastern Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia, were analysed with particular reference to piscivory and predation on juveniles of commercially important penaeid prawns from October 1986 until July 1988. Of the 77 species caught, 52 were piscivorous, and of these 37 ate penaeid prawns. The most numerous piscivores wereScomberoides commersonianus, Arius proximus, Lates calcarifer, Polydactylus sheridani andRhizoprionodon acutus, the first four of which accounted for over 90% of all prawns eaten. Twenty species are commercially important species of prawns. The proportions of penaeids in the diets varied seasonally, according to the density of penaeids in the estuary. The proportion was highest during the pre-wet period (November) and lowest during the dry period (July–August). Predation on prawns was highest in the lower and middle reaches of the river. Estimates of the rates of predation on the two most common juvenile commercial prawns,Penaeus merguiensis andP. semisulcatus, are presented and discussed.

Communicated by G. F. Humphrey, Sydney