Feeding in a larval fish assemblage: the nutritional significance of an estuarine plume front

Abstract

Gut fullness of larval fishes was used to determine the nutritional significance of an estuarine plume front off Botany Bay, SE Australia, on three days in March/April 1990. Fishes were captured in three different water masses (estuarine plume, front and shelf water), each separated by ≃ 200 m, using a 260 μm mesh purse-seine net. Overall, the gut-fullness index (GFI) of 260 fish larvae combined from eight families (Gerreidae, Mugilidae, Mullidae, Sparidae, Blenniidae, Kyphosidae, Monodactylidae, Pomacentridae), was significantly greater in the plume and front water on two of the sampling occasions, but no difference was detected on the third occasion. Trends in GFI among families were inconsistent with respect to the front. The mugilid (Liza argentea) fed equally and abundantly in all water masses (gut fullness>90%), while the kyphosid (Kyphosus spp.) had a significantly greater GFI in the plume compared to the shelf water. In general, the response of GFI to the front varied between dates and amongst taxa. Diet analysis showed that mugilids selected for copepod nauplii within the plume and shelf water [alpha selectivity index (ASI) of (0.22 to 0.98)] and for harpacticoid copepods within the front (ASI=0.92), representing characteristic diets identified by canonical discriminant analysis. Kyphosids selected positively for copepod nauplii in all three water masses on both occasions (ASI>0.96). In general, diets of larval fish were taxon-specific, and responded variably to the three habitats. Comparison of diets across water masses was complicated by the large number of families, which rarely occurred in all water masses. The nutritional significance of an estuarine plume front varies between species of larval fish, and there are no obvious trends that can be applied to the larval fish community in general.

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Correspondence to D. Rissik.

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Communicated by G.F. Humphrey, Sydney

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Rissik, D., Suthers, I.M. Feeding in a larval fish assemblage: the nutritional significance of an estuarine plume front. Marine Biology 125, 233–240 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00346303

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Keywords

  • Water Masse
  • Fish Community
  • Fish Assemblage
  • Larval Fish
  • Sampling Occasion