, Volume 157, Issue 5, pp 931-942
Date: 20 Dec 2009

Prey selection by resident common bottlenose dolphins (tursiops truncatus) in Sarasota Bay, Florida

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Abstract

Prey selection was investigated in wild, resident common bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, during the summer months in Sarasota Bay, Florida, USA. Stomach content analyses of 15 dolphins with extensive sighting histories and well-documented distributions were used to determine prey use. Prey availability was assessed by purse seine surveys. We compared the relative abundances of prey available to estimates of prey use at closely matching spatial and temporal scales. G-tests determined that dolphins in this study significantly selected for prey at the species, family, and soniferous/non-soniferous prey levels (G adj  = 753.98–1,775.93, df = 1–21, p ≤ 0.01). While comprising only 6.3% of the total available prey, soniferous fishes accounted for 51.9% of the total prey consumed. Manly’s standardized forage ratios and 95% Bonferroni confidence intervals determined significant positive selection for soniferous prey and against non-soniferous prey (βS = 0.9461 vs. βNS = 0.0539). Dolphins selected against Gerridae, Clupeidae, and Sparidae (β ≤ 0.0014), as well as against all the species within those families (β ≤ 0.0190). It is likely that passive listening for soniferous prey provides an ecological or energetic advantage to cetaceans utilizing this specific foraging technique.

Communicated by S. Garthe.
An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00227-009-1385-9