Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 445–454 | Cite as

Generalists as sequential specialists: diets and prey switching in juvenile silver perch

  • Kevin Warburton
  • Simone Retif
  • Doug Hume
Article

Abstract

Diets of silver perch, Bidyanus bidyanus, in organically fertilised aquaculture ponds were dominated by chironomid larvae, Daphnia and calanoid copepods. Insects and crustaceans contributed approximately 80% and 20% by weight to the diet respectively. Classification of the stomach contents of individual fish revealed 8 diet groups, 4 of which were dominated by planktonic crustaceans and 4 by insects. Each diet group was strongly dominated by a different prey type. Fish from the same sample tended to belong to the same diet group and there was a non-random distribution of diet groups across ponds. Perch diets were influenced by the method of pond fertilisation (livestock effluent or pellet feed). Shifts in the representation of groups indicated that fish switched from one diet group to another over a 2–4 week period. The selection of planktonic prey by perch was related to prey densities in the ponds. Fish preferred Daphnia when these prey were common, but switched to calanoids and insects when Daphnia were scarce. A perfect rank correlation between the mean body size of planktonic prey and their contribution to the diet suggested that prey choice involved comparative decisions based on prey size. These findings indicate that, while classified as dietary generalists, silver perch exhibit consumption patterns which at the individual level are highly specialised at any given time. These patterns can be predicted, given information on prey densities in the environment.

planktivory insectivory pond fertility fish Bidyanus bidyanus 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References cited

  1. Barlow, C.C., R. McLoughlin & K. Bock. 1987. Complementary feeding habits of golden perch Macquaria ambigua (Richardson)( Percichthyidae) and silver perch Bidyanus bidyanus (Mitchell)(Teraponidae) in farm dams. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 109(3): 143–152.Google Scholar
  2. Bernays, E.A., K.L. Bright, N. Gonzalez & J. Angel. 1994. Dietary mixing in a generalist herbivore: tests of two hypotheses. Ecology 75: 1997–2006.Google Scholar
  3. Bryan, J.E. & P.A. Larkin. 1972. Food specialization by individual trout. J. Fish. Res. Board Can. 29: 1615–1624.Google Scholar
  4. Culver, D.A. & M.C. Geddes. 1993. Limnology of rearing ponds for Australian fish larvae: relationships among water quality, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and the growth of larval fish. Aust. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 44: 537–551.Google Scholar
  5. Ehlinger, T.J. & D.S. Wilson. 1988. Complex foraging polymorphism in bluegill sunfish. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 85: 1878–1882.Google Scholar
  6. Holling, C.S. 1959. The components of predation as revealed by a study of small-mammal predation on the European sawfly. Can. Ent. 91: 293–320.Google Scholar
  7. Hughes, R.N., M.J. Kaiser, P.A. Mackney & K. Warburton. 1992. Optimizing foraging behaviour through learning. J. Fish Biology 41 (Supplement B): 77–91.Google Scholar
  8. Kieffer, J.D. & P.W. Colgan. 1991. Individual variation in learning by foraging pumpkinseed sunfish, Lepomis gibbosus: the influence of habitat. Anim. Behav. 41: 603–611.Google Scholar
  9. Lavin, P.A. & J.D. McPhail. 1985. The evolution of freshwater diversity in the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus): site-specific differentiation of trophic morphology. Can. J. Zool. 63: 2632–2638.Google Scholar
  10. Lechowicz, M.J. 1982. The sampling characteristics of electivity indices. Oecologia 52: 22–30.Google Scholar
  11. Lobel, P.S. & J.C. Ogden. 1981. Foraging by the herbivorous parrotfish Sparisoma radians. Mar. Biol. 64: 173–183.Google Scholar
  12. Magurran, A. E. 1992. Individual differences and alternative behaviours. pp. 441–477. In: T.J. Pitcher (ed.) Behaviour of Teleost Fishes, Chapman & Hall, London.Google Scholar
  13. Malmquist, H.J., S.S. Snorrason, S. Skulason, B. Jonsson, O.T. Sandlund & P.M. Jonasson. 1992. Diet differentiation in polymorphic Arctic charr in Thingvallavatn, Iceland. J. Anim. Ecol. 61: 21–35.Google Scholar
  14. Merrick, J.R. & G.E. Schmida. 1984. Australian freshwater fishes. Biology and management. Merrick, North Ryde. 409 pp.Google Scholar
  15. Pierotti, R. & C. Annett. 1987. Reproductive consequences of dietary specialization and switching in an ecological generalist. pp. 417–442. In: A.C. Kamil, J.R. Krebs & H.R. Pulliam (ed.) Foraging Behavior, Plenum, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Robinson, B.W., D.S. Wilson & G.O. Shea. 1996. Tradeoffs of ecological specialization: an intraspecific comparison of pumpkinseed sunfish phenotypes. Ecology 77: 170–178.Google Scholar
  17. Rowland, S.J. & C.G. Barlow. 1990. Fish biology. The right prerequisites. Austasia Aquaculture 5: 27–30.Google Scholar
  18. Rowland, S.J. & C. Bryant (ed.). 1995. Silver perch culture. Austasia Aquaculture for New South Wales Fisheries, Sandy Bay. 125 pp.Google Scholar
  19. Skulason, S. & T.B. Smith. 1995. Resource polymorphism in vertebrates. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 10: 366–370.Google Scholar
  20. Werner, E.E., G.G. Mittelbach & D.J. Hall. 1981. The role of foraging profitability and experience in habitat use by the bluegill sunfish. Ecology 62: 116–125.Google Scholar
  21. Wu, L. & D.A. Culver. 1992. Ontogenetic diet shift in Lake Erie age-0 yellow perch: a size-related response to zoooplankton density. Can. J. Fish. Aquat Sci. 49: 1932–1937.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Warburton
    • 1
  • Simone Retif
    • 1
  • Doug Hume
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.3/88 L'Estrange Tce.Kelvin GroveAustralia

Personalised recommendations