Marine Biology

, Volume 149, Issue 6, pp 1291–1299 | Cite as

Caribbean mangroves and seagrass beds as daytime feeding habitats for juvenile French grunts, Haemulon flavolineatum

  • Marieke C. Verweij
  • Ivan Nagelkerken
  • Suzanne L. J. Wartenbergh
  • Ido R. Pen
  • Gerard van der Velde
Research Article


Caribbean seagrass beds are important feeding habitats for so-called nocturnally active zoobenthivorous fish, but the extent to which these fishes use mangroves and seagrass beds as feeding habitats during daytime remains unclear. We hypothesised three feeding strategies: (1) fishes feed opportunistically in mangroves or seagrass beds throughout the day and feed predominantly in seagrass beds during night-time; (2) fishes start feeding in mangroves or seagrass beds during daytime just prior to nocturnal feeding in seagrass beds; (3) after nocturnal feeding in seagrass beds, fishes complete feeding in mangroves or seagrass beds during the morning. We studied the effect of habitat type, fish size, social mode and time of day on resting and feeding behaviour of large juvenile (5–10 cm) and sub-adult (10–15 cm) Haemulon flavolineatum in mangroves and seagrass beds during daytime. Sub-adults occurred in mangroves only, spent most time on resting, and showed rare opportunistic feeding events (concordant with strategy 1), regardless of their social mode (solitary or schooling). In contrast, large juveniles were present in both habitat types and solitary fishes mainly foraged, while schooling fishes mainly rested. Exceptions were small juveniles (±5 cm) in seagrass beds which foraged intensively while schooling. Large juveniles showed more feeding activity in seagrass beds than in mangroves. In both habitat types, they showed benthic feeding, whereas pelagic feeding was observed almost exclusively in the seagrass beds. In both habitat types, their feeding activity was highest during 8:00–10:30 hours (concordant with strategy 3), and for seagrass fishes, it was also high during 17:30–18:30 hours (concordant with strategy 2). The study shows that both mangroves and seagrass beds provide daytime feeding habitats for some life-stages of H. flavolineatum, which is generally considered a nocturnal feeder.


Habitat Type Social Mode Large Juvenile Nocturnal Feeding Shelter Habitat 
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This study was funded by NUFFIC through the ENVIRONS-MHO Project, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and the Schure-Beijerinck-Popping Fonds. IN was supported by a VIDI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. We thank the staff and personnel of the Carmabi Foundation for their hospitality and provision of research materials. Asiento marina kindly provided dock space for our research boat. We furthermore thank the departments of Animal Behaviour and Marine Biology of the University of Groningen for providing office space for writing the ms. This is Centre for Wetland Ecology publication number 384.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marieke C. Verweij
    • 1
  • Ivan Nagelkerken
    • 1
  • Suzanne L. J. Wartenbergh
    • 1
  • Ido R. Pen
    • 2
  • Gerard van der Velde
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal Ecology and Ecophysiology, Institute for Water and Wetland Research, Faculty of ScienceRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Theoretical Biology Group, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary StudiesUniversity of GroningenHarenThe Netherlands

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