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Spatial segregation amongst goby species within an Australian estuary, with a comparison of the diets and salinity tolerance of the two most abundant species

Abstract

The present study was undertaken to determine whether the various species of gobies that are found within the large Swan Estuary in south-western Australia are segregated within that system, and to attempt to determine the basis for any differences in their spatial distributions. The Swan Estuary comprises a long entrance channel (lower estuary), two wide basins (middle estuary) and the saline reaches of the tributary rivers (upper estuary). A total of 26232 gobies, representing seven species, was collected using a 3 mm-mesh seine net at 15 sites throughout this estuary on at least one occasion monthly over seven consecutive seasons between September 1983 and March 1985. Favonigobius lateralis and Pseudogobius olorum contributed 47.0 and 47.8%, respectively, to the total catch of gobies at all sites. The densities of each species at each site were used to determine the relative contribution of each species to the gobiid fauna at each of the sites in the lower, middle and upper estuary. Comparisons of these data with those published on the distribution and abundance of gobiid larvae confirmed that F. lateralis, which was found predominantly in the lower estuary, is a marine species that spawns in high salinities near the estuary mouth or in inshore coastal waters. In contrast, the life cycle of P. olorum and Papillogobius punctatus are typically completed within the saline reaches of the upper estuary, and that of Arenigobius bifrenatus within both this region and parts of the middle estuary where the substrate is particularly soft. Afurcagobius suppositus also spawns in this area, as well as in fresh water. Tridentiger trigonocephalus, represented by only eight individuals, is an introduced, marine species that was found mainly in the lower estuary. A single representative of the marine species Callogobius depressus was caught. The relatively low numbers of gobies caught in the middle estuary, where they contributed only about 3.5% to the total number of all gobies at all sites, may represent an aversion to the presence of rougher waters in the large basins. Circumstantial evidence suggests that the sandy substrate and consistently high salinities found in the lower estuary are preferred by F. lateralis, whereas the silty surface to the substrate and lower salinities of the upper estuary are preferred by Pseudogobius olorum. Densities of three of the four most abundant species were higher in either spring or summer than in winter, reflecting the influx of 0 + recruits, and possibly also the tendency for species in estuaries to congregate in the shallows during the warmer periods of the year. F. lateralis fed mainly on polychaetes and crustaceans, whereas P. olorum ingested predominantly algae, reflecting differences in mouth morphology and feeding behaviour, rather than the type of food available.

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Gill, H.S., Potter, I.C. Spatial segregation amongst goby species within an Australian estuary, with a comparison of the diets and salinity tolerance of the two most abundant species. Marine Biology 117, 515–526 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00349327

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00349327

Keywords

  • Polychaete
  • Marine Species
  • Entrance Channel
  • Spatial Segregation
  • Lower Estuary