Advertisement

Hydrobiologia

, Volume 614, Issue 1, pp 19–31 | Cite as

The importance of zooplankton in the diets of three native fish species in floodplain waterholes of a dryland river, the Macintyre River, Australia

  • Elvio S. F. MedeirosEmail author
  • Angela H. Arthington
PLANKTON STUDIES

Abstract

The zooplankton of freshwater systems has been recognized as an important energy resource for fish of small body size that, in turn, provide energy to piscivorous fish consumers higher up the food web. This study evaluates the importance of zooplankton to the diets of three species of fish living in floodplain waterholes of an Australian dryland river. The species selected for study represent different trophic categories in waterhole food webs: Ambassis agassizii is a microcarnivore, Leiopotherapon unicolor is an omnivore, and Nematalosa erebi is a detritivore. Dietary differences among size classes of each species were also evaluated to understand possible ontogenetic shifts in zooplankton consumption. Ambassis agassizii fed primarily on zooplankton (99.9%, made up mostly of 81.6% Calanoida and 17.4% Moinidae), regardless of the size of individual fish. Leiopotherapon unicolor fed on zooplankton (47%, mostly Daphniidae and Moinidae) and aquatic insects (46.7%). Smaller individuals of Leiopotherapon unicolor (30–49 mm TL—total length) were responsible for 36.1% of the plankton consumed by the species. Nematalosa erebi fed on detritus (84.6%) with zooplankton (Calanoida, Moinidae, and Cyclopoida) contributing only 13.7% of the mean diet. Smaller individuals (40–69 mm TL) were responsible for 98% of the plankton consumed by Nematalosa erebi, and individuals of 40–49 mm (TL) fed exclusively on zooplankton (53.8% Moinidae and 46.2% Calanoida). Although the three fish species had different diets, reflecting differences in species-specific and ontogenetic morphological and behavioral characteristics, zooplankton formed the basis of the diet of all species when young. These results confirm the importance of zooplankton as a major food resource for three fish species and smaller size classes of these species in floodplain waterholes of the Macintyre River, Australia.

Keywords

Fish Diet Zooplankton Floodplain waterholes Dryland rivers Australia 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to Griffith University for financial support during the course of this research and the Brazilian Agency for Post-Graduate Education (CAPES) for a post-graduate scholarship to Elvio Medeiros (BEX 1475/99-1). The authors also thank Dr. Glenn Wilson (formerly located at the Northern Basin Laboratory, MDFRC, Goondiwindi) for his support during field aspects of this study. Fish were collected under Queensland and New South Wales Fisheries Permit Nos. PRM00234H, PRM03315D and P01/0089, and Griffith University Research Ethics Protocol No. AES/02/01/aec. Completion of this paper represents a contribution to the eWater Co-operative Research Centre (Program B, Project F2).

References

  1. Arthington, A. H., 1992. Diets and trophic guild structure of freshwater fishes in Brisbane streams. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 102: 31–47.Google Scholar
  2. Arthington, A. H., S. R. Balcombe, G. A. Wilson, M. C. Thoms & J. C. Marshall, 2005. Spatial and temporal variation in fish-assemblage structure in isolated waterholes during the 2001 dry season of an arid-zone floodplain river, Cooper Creek, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 56: 25–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Atkins, B., 1984. Feeding ecology of Nematolosa erebi in the lower River Murray. Honors Thesis, Department of Zoology. University of Adelaide, Adelaide: 82 pp.Google Scholar
  4. Balcombe, S. R., S. E. Bunn, P. M. Davies & F. J. McKenzie-Smith, 2005. Variability of fish diets between dry and flood periods in an arid zone floodplain river. Journal of Fish Biology 67: 1552–1567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Biondini, M. E., C. D. Bonham & E. F. Redente, 1985. Secondary successional patterns in a sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) community as they relate to soil disturbance and soil biological activity. Vegetatio 60: 25–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bluhdorn, D. R. & A. H. Arthington, 1994. The effects of flow regulation in the Barker-Barambah catchment. Griffith University, Centre for Catchment and In-Stream Research, Brisbane, Australia: 421 pp.Google Scholar
  7. Breck, J. E. & M. J. Gitter, 1983. Effect of fish size on the reactive distance of bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) sunfish. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 40: 162–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bunn, S. E., P. M. Davies & M. Winning, 2003. Sources of organic carbon supporting the food web of an arid zone floodplain river. Freshwater Biology 48: 619–635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dunbrack, R. L. & L. M. Dill, 1983. A model of size dependent surface feeding in a stream dwelling salmonid. Environmental Biology of Fishes 8: 203–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gerking, S. D., 1994. Feeding Ecology of Fish. Academic Press, San Diego, 416 pp.Google Scholar
  11. Hyslop, E. J., 1980. Stomach contents analysis—a review of methods and their application. Journal of Fish Biology 17: 411–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jones, R. I., J. Grey, D. Sleep & L. Arvola, 1999. Stable isotope analysis of zooplankton carbon nutrition in humic lakes. OIKOS 86: 97–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Keast, A., 1985. The piscivore feeding guild of fishes in small freshwater ecosystems. Environmental Biology of Fishes 12: 119–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kennard, M. J., 1995. Factors influencing freshwater fish assemblage in floodplain lagoons of the Normanby River, Cape York Peninsula: a large tropical Australian River. M.Sc. Thesis, Division of Environmental Science. Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia: 225 pp.Google Scholar
  15. Kennard, M. J., B. J. Pusey & A. H. Arthington, 2001. Trophic ecology of freshwater fishes in Australia. Griffith University, Centre for Catchment and In-Stream Research, Brisbane, Australia: 42 pp.Google Scholar
  16. Kingsford, R. T., A. L. Curtin & J. Porter, 1999. Water flows in Cooper Creek in arid Australia determine “boom” and “bust” periods for waterbirds. Biological Conservation 88: 231–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McCune, B. & J. B. Grace, 2002. Analysis of Ecological Communities. MjM Software Design, Gleneden Beach, Oregon, U.S.A., 300 pp.Google Scholar
  18. McCune, B. & M. J. Mefford, 1999. PC-ORD. Multivariate Analysis of Ecological Data. MjM Software Design, Gleneden Beach, Oregon, U.S.A.Google Scholar
  19. Medeiros, E. S. F., 2005. Trophic ecology and energy sources for fish on the floodplain of a regulated dryland river: Macintyre River, Australia. PhD Thesis, School of Australian Environmental Studies, Faculty of Environmental Sciences. Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia: xvi, 247 pp.Google Scholar
  20. Medeiros E. S. F. & A. H. Arthington, 2008. Diel variation in food intake and diet composition of three native fish species in floodplain lagoons of the Macintyre River, Australia. Journal of Fish Biology 73. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8649.2008.01959.x
  21. Morton, S. R., J. Short & R. D. Barker, 1995. Refugia for biological diversity in arid and semi-arid Australia. Biodiversity Series, Paper no. 4. Report to the Biodiversity Unit of the Department of Environment, Sport and Territories, Canberra, Australia: 171 pp.Google Scholar
  22. O’Brien, W. J., 1979. The predator-prey interaction of planktivorous fish and zooplankton. American Scientist 67: 572–581.Google Scholar
  23. Pusey, B. J., A. H. Arthington & M. G. Read, 2000. The dry-season diet of freshwater fishes in monsoonal tropical rivers of Cape York Peninsula, Australia. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 9: 177–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pusey, B. J., M. J. Kennard & A. H. Arthington, 2004. Freshwater Fishes of North-eastern Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, Australia, 682 pp.Google Scholar
  25. Pusey, B. J., M. G. Read & A. H. Arthington, 1995. The feeding ecology of freshwater fishes in two rivers of the Australian wet tropics. Environmental Biology of Fishes 43: 85–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rodriguez, M. A. & W. M. Lewis Jr., 1997. Structure of fish assemblages along environmental gradients in floodplain lakes of the Orinoco River. Ecological Monographs 67: 109–128.Google Scholar
  27. Saint-Paul, U., J. Zuanon, M. A. Villacorta Correa, M. Garcia, N. N. Fabre, U. Berger & W. J. Junk, 2000. Fish communities in central Amazonia white- and blackwater floodplains. Environmental Biology of Fishes 57: 235–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Schafer, L. N., M. E. Platell, F. J. Valesini & I. C. Potter, 2002. Comparisons between the influence of habitat type, season and body size on dietary compositions of fish species in nearshore marine waters. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 278: 67–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Welcomme, R. L., 1985. River Fisheries. FAO Fish. Tech. Pap. No. 262, Rome, 330 pp.Google Scholar
  30. Welcomme, R. L., C. Bene, C. A. Brown, A. H. Arthington, P. Dugan, J. M. King & V. Sugunan, 2006. Predicting the water requirements of river fisheries. In Verhoeven, J. T. A., B. Beltman, R. Bobbink & D. F. Whigham (eds.), Wetlands and Natural Resource Management. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg: 123–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Werner, E. E., 1974. The fish size, prey size, handling time relation in several sunfishes and some implications. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 31: 1531–1536.Google Scholar
  32. Werner, E. E. & J. F. Gilliam, 1984. The ontogenetic niche and species interactions in size-structured populations. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 15: 393–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Winemiller, K. O., 1989. Ontogenetic diet shifts and resource partitioning among piscivorous fishes in the Venezuelan ilanos. Environmental Biology of Fishes 26: 177–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Winemiller, K. O., 1996. Factors driving temporal and spatial variation in aquatic floodplain food webs. In Polis, G. A. & K. O. Winemiller (eds), Food Webs: Integration of Patterns and Dynamics, Vol. 472. Chapman and Hall, New York: 298–312.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elvio S. F. Medeiros
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Angela H. Arthington
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian Rivers Institute and eWater Co-operative Research CentreGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia, CCBSUniversidade Estadual da ParaibaCampina GrandeBrazil

Personalised recommendations