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Spatial and ontogenetic variation in the diet of wild and stocked mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus, sciaenidae) in Australian estuaries

Abstract

Prey importance and ontogenetic transitions in the diet of stocked and wild mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus) were compared between a southeast Australian reverine estuary and a coastal lagoon. Stomach content analysis of fish captured from these estuaries in 1997–1979, 1997–1998, and 2003–2005 revealed size-specific and estuary-specific diets. Mysid shrimp were most common in diets of fish <250 mm total length (TL), and prawns were common in diets of fish measuring 301–450 mm. Forage fish were most abundant in diets of mulloway >500 mm. Index of Relative Importance (IRI) of forage fish increased with TL, while IRI of mysids decreased with TL. Prawn IRI was greatest for fish 150–600 mm TL. Comparisons between benthic resources and dietary composition revealed that Georges River mulloway consumed prey categories in proportions similar to those in their environment. No mysid shrimp were detected in the coastal lagoon or in the diet of mulloway captured there; growth was comparable to the Georges River. Hatchery-reared fish fed<16 d after stocking, indicating normal behavioural adaptation after release. Dietary information can be used to optimize stocking locations, times, and densities, as well as estimate potential effects of mulloway on potential prey and wild conspecifics.

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Correspondence to Matthew D. Taylor.

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Taylor, M.D., Fielder, D.S. & Suthers, I.M. Spatial and ontogenetic variation in the diet of wild and stocked mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus, sciaenidae) in Australian estuaries. Estuaries and Coasts: J ERF 29, 785–793 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02786529

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Keywords

  • Prey Item
  • Stock Enhancement
  • Forage Fish
  • Ontogenetic Variation
  • Forage Resource