, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 502-507

The role of iceberg scours in niche separation within the Antarctic fish genus Trematomus

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Species of the Antarctic fish genus Trematomus occupy different trophic niches. It is not clear, however, whether small-scale variability in benthic community structure affects niche separation. Therefore abundance and biomass of fish were determined and stomach content and food composition were compared in areas affected by iceberg scours and unaffected areas in the Weddell Sea. Trematomus eulepidotus, T. lepidorhinus and T. scotti dominate undisturbed areas, whereas T. nicolai and especially T. pennellii dominate disturbed areas. Total stomach content and number of prey taxa per fish are higher in preferred than in non-preferred areas. These findings indicate that small-scale horizontal patterns caused by iceberg scours play a distinct role in Trematomus niche separation.