Food resource partitioning of the Mustelus lunulatus and Mustelus henlei (Elasmobranchii: Carcharhiniformes)

Abstract

The feeding habits and trophic ecology of Mustelus lunulatus and Mustelus henlei in the central coast of the Colombian Pacific were evaluated and compared to determine whether there was trophic niche overlap or resource partitioning between these two sympatric shark species. A total of 59 prey items were identified and grouped into 10 taxonomic categories. Mustelus lunulatus fed in large proportion on Stomatopoda and Brachyura, whereas M. henlei fed almost exclusively on Teleostei. Dendrobranchiata, Cephalopoda, Anomura and Polychaeta complemented the diets of both species. There were significant differences in diet between the two species, and there was an ontogenetic diet shift in Mustelus lunulatus, with Stomatopoda being the main prey item of juveniles and Brachyura the main prey item of adults. Dietary overlap (by sex and size) was low between species, but it was high for each species, with significant overlap between juveniles and adults of M. lunulatus and M. henlei, and between males and females of M. henlei. There were differences in the trophic levels of the species, sexes and sizes. This study suggests there is food resource partitioning, and differing ecological function of the two Mustelus species in the food web of the study area.

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Acknowledgements

To biologist J. López, M.A. Orozco and E. Galindo for their assistance conducting field and laboratory work. To fishermens of Pueblo Nuevo in Buenaventura city, for their help in obtaining samples. This study was partially funded by Conservación Internacional and Colciencias-Universidad del Valle (code: 1106-452-21080, contract: 429 RC-258-2008).

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Amariles, D.F., Navia, A.F. & Giraldo, A. Food resource partitioning of the Mustelus lunulatus and Mustelus henlei (Elasmobranchii: Carcharhiniformes). Environ Biol Fish 100, 717–732 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-017-0598-x

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Keywords

  • Diet
  • Trophic niche
  • Dietary overlap
  • Resource partitioning
  • Coexistence