Alternative egg-feeding tactics in Telmatherina sarasinorum, a trophic specialist of Lake Matano’s evolving sailfin silversides fish radiation
- First Online:
- 122 Downloads
Feeding specialisation is a typical feature of adaptive animal radiations. Different kinds of feeding specialisations have evolved in the endemic sailfin silversides species flock in Lake Matano (Central Sulawesi, Indonesia), including egg-feeding. The present study focuses on Telmatherina sarasinorum, a sailfin silverside species feeding on the eggs of related Telmatherina antoniae. Stomach content analyses supported T. antoniae eggs to be the dominant food item, independent of daytime. We hypothesized that the egg-feeders use alternative tactics for maximising egg consumption under varying densities of both, spawning T. antoniae pairs and competing conspecific egg-feeders. Focal behavioural observations were applied to describe different feeding tactics and to analyse feeding success and the related costs in terms of competitive interactions. Egg-feeders followed single courting pairs of T. antoniae or, alternatively, they switched between different spawning pairs. Following-behaviour, covering one or more spawning events of the host species, was positively related to enhanced egg consumption. Compared to feeding by switching frequently among different spawning pairs, the following tactic came at the cost of likewise increased competition. Behavioural observations suggest that some males monopolize courting pairs of T. antoniae and gain increased amounts of eggs compared to others avoiding competition by switching among pairs. The present results confirm that egg-feeding is a distinct trophic specialisation in T. sarasinorum and increase the scale of behavioural specialisation in Lake Matano’s evolving Telmatherina radiation.