Quantitative food habits of the bullnose ray, Myliobatis freminvillii, in Delaware Bay
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- Szczepanski, J.A. & Bengtson, D.A. Environ Biol Fish (2014) 97: 981. doi:10.1007/s10641-014-0282-3
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Feeding habits of many batoid elasmobranchs have been recorded, but diets, prey selection, and resource partitioning within specific populations are not fully understood. Few descriptions exist of the diet of a batoid species throughout its entire life history. Through gut content analysis, our research examined the feeding habits of the bullnose ray, Myliobatis freminvillii, to understand the diet and trophic role of this species in the Delaware Bay at various life stages. We were able to collect a higher abundance of neonate and juvenile rays than expected allowing for a more comprehensive diet characterization than in past studies. Over the course of 2 years, 160 specimens were collected through fisheries-independent trawl surveys, of which 132 had stomach contents. Overall, this species feeds mainly on hermit crabs and gastropods, with some bivalves as well. Diet was shown to vary across months and across life history stages. Diet data for the various months and life stages of this species in Delaware Bay can provide new information for future efforts in conservation, ecosystem-based fisheries management, and modeling.