A comparison of juvenile bonefish diets in Eleuthera, The Bahamas, and Florida, U.S.
Bonefish (Albula spp.) are a popular recreational gamefish; however, there is currently limited information on bonefish early life history stages. Here we examine the diet of juvenile bonefish (Albula vulpes) in Eleuthera, The Bahamas, and provide a comparison to previously collected data on bonefish (Albula spp., primarily A. goreensis) in Florida. In Eleuthera, amphipods and carideans were the most important prey items found in the digestive tracts of 111 juvenile bonefish collected in 2011 and 2012. There was no difference in the ranking of 14 prey taxa between years, however, there was a difference between sample locations on Eleuthera, The Bahamas, with fish being from either Rock Sound (west coast) or Savannah Sound and Half Sound (east coast). Prey species diversity, evenness, and richness were all lower on the west coast compared to the east coast of Eleuthera. There was also a higher probability of an empty stomach with larger bonefish on the west coast, higher amphipod and caridean abundances in juvenile bonefish on the west coast, and higher amphipod abundance with larger bonefish of Eleuthera. Differences may be related to variation in habitat structure and/or prey availability between the sample locations of the island. There was no statistical difference in ranking between the 17 prey taxa categories in Eleuthera A. vulpes and Florida A. spp (86% A. goreensis) juvenile bonefish stomachs; however, only one taxon (Amphipoda) occurred in the top-five-ranked taxa between the two studies. Results reported here provide the first insight into juvenile A. vulpes diet and how bonefish diet may vary across embayments, regions, and species.
KeywordsAlbula vulpes Juvenile bonefish Dietary overlap Gut content analysis Index of relative importance The Bahamas
This research was granted approval by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC – 2010-0067) at the University of Massachusetts. We thank the anonymous reviewers for valuable comments and thank the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust for funding this project, and Justin Lewis and Liane Nowell for their assistance with collection and processing fish specimens. In addition, we thank Elizabeth Wallace for genetic identification and Jack Finn for assistance in data exploration. Many thanks to Aaron Shultz and the staff at the Cape Eleuthera Institute for making this study possible. Andrew Clark at the College of Charleston provided access to dissecting scopes. And we would like to finally thank Derke Snodgrass, Richard Heard, James Thomas, and Ron Shimek, for their assistance in identifying unknown prey items.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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