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Diet of the coral hawkfish Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus (Family: Cirrhitidae) in a fringing coral reef of the Eastern Tropical Pacific

Abstract

Hawkfishes are small demersal reef predators. Although their association with the coral substrate has been widely documented for some species, information regarding their feeding habits is limited, especially in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP). We characterized the diet of the coral hawkfish Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus in Isla Gorgona (ETP) by visually analyzing its gut contents and calculating its trophic niche breadth. Crustaceans were the most important (relative importance: 73%) and frequent prey found in 89% of the stomachs analyzed. Among crustaceans, copepods were the most abundant prey, suggesting that C. oxycephalus in Isla Gorgona has a specialized diet. In terms of biomass, decapods represented the highest contribution to the diet. Other prey items included micromolluscs and fish. This study highlights the strong trophic link between coral-dwelling reef fish and mobile invertebrates that comprise the coral reef cryptic fauna, and therefore, the indirect benefit that live coral cover has for this species.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Diego Córdoba for his assistance in laboratory and data analyses, and Edgardo Londoño and Juan Felipe Lazarus for their help with the identification of the invertebrates. We especially thank Juan Pablo Erazo, Alejandro Perlaza, Kevin Steven Mendoza, and Juan José Gallego for their help during the field trip. We thank Parques Nacionales Naturales, especially the staff of PNN Gorgona for their logistical support. We thank Maitreyi Nagarkar and Mikaela Seemann for correcting the English. This study is part of the research project “Estructura y función de los invertebrados crípticos móviles en dos arrecifes coralinos del Pacífico colombiano” funded by COLCIENCIAS and Universidad del Valle to BV. This study was performed under the collection permit No. 20192000038341.

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Correspondence to Stephania Palacios-Narváez.

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Palacios-Narváez, S., Valencia, B. & Giraldo, A. Diet of the coral hawkfish Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus (Family: Cirrhitidae) in a fringing coral reef of the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Coral Reefs 39, 1503–1509 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-020-02007-4

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Keywords

  • Coral reef fishes
  • Stomach contents
  • Trophic interactions
  • Colombian Pacific