Skip to main content

Feeding habits of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) in Galveston Bay, Texas: Seasonal diet variation and predator-prey size relationships

Abstract

Feeding habits, seasonal diet variation, and predator size-prey size relationships of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) were investigated in Galveston Bay, Texas through stomach contents analysis. A total of 598 red drum ranging from 291–763 mm total length were collected and their stomach contents analyzed during fall 1997 and spring 1998. The diet of red drum showed significant seasonal patterns, and was dominated by white shrimp (Penaeus setiferus) during fall and gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus) during spring. Blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) was an important component of red drum diets during both seasons. Significant differences existed between prey types consumed during fall and spring as red drum diet reflected seasonal variation in prey availability. Predictive regression equations were generated to estimate original carapace width of blue crabs from several measurements taken from carapace fragments recovered in red drum stomachs. Regressions were highly significant (r2>0.97) and increased the number of blue crabs with size information nearly three fold. Predator size-prey size relationships were determined for red drum feeding on white shrimp, gulf menhaden, and blue crab. Although regression slopes were statistically significant, prey sizes increased only slightly with increasing red drum size. Comparisons of prey sizes consumed by red drum with sizes occurring in the field indicate that red drum feed in nearshore shallow water habitats, which serve as nursery areas for many juvenile fishes and crustaceans. Our findings demonstrate that red drum feed on several prey species of commercial and recreational value and may have important effects on estuarine community structure.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Literature Cited

  • Bailey, K. M. 1994. Predation on juvenile flatfish and recruitment variability.Netherlands Journal of Sea Research 32:175–189.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bass, R. J. andJ. W. Avault, Jr. 1975. Food habits, length-weight relationships, condition factor, and growth of juvenile red drum,Sciaenops ocellata, in Louisiana.Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 104:35–45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Boothby, R. N. andJ. W. Avault, Jr. 1971. Food habits, lengthweight relationships, and condition factor of the red drum,Sciaenops ocellata, in southern Louisiana.Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 100:290–295.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chesson, J. 1978. Measuring preference in selective predation.Ecology 59:211–215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Colura, R. L. andR. Buckley. 1996. Comparison of Texas red drum age-length keys and von Bertalanffy growth models. Final Report: Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, Grant No. F-36-R (Project 19). Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Coastal Fisheries Division. Austin, Texas.

    Google Scholar 

  • Comyns, B. H., J. Lyczkowski-Shultz, D. L. Nieland, andC. A. Wilson. 1991. Reproduction of red drum,Sciaenops ocellatus, in the northcentral Gulf of Mexico: Seasonality and spawner biomass. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Technical Report, National Marine Fisheries Service 95:17–26.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cortés, E., C. A. Manire, andR. E. Hueter. 1996. Diet, feeding habits, and diel feeding chronology of the bonnethead shark,Sphyrna tiburo, in southwest Florida.Bulletin of Marine Science 58:353–367.

    Google Scholar 

  • Darnell, R. M. 1958. Food habits of fishes and larger invertebrates of Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana, and estuarine community.Publications of the Institute of Marine Science 5:353–416.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ferry, L. A. andG. M. Cailliet. 1996. Sample size and data analysis: Are we characterizing and comparing diet properly? p. 71–80.In D. MacKinlay and K. Shearer (eds.), Feeding Ecology and Nutrition in Fish: Proceedings of the Symposium on the Feeding Ecology and Nutrition in Fish, International Congress on the Biology of Fishes, San Francisco, California, July 14–18, 1996. American Fisheries Society, San Francisco, California.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fuls, B. andL. W. McEachron. 1997. Trends in relative abundance and size of selected finfishes and shellfishes along the Texas coast: November 1975–December 1995. Texas Parks and Wildlife Management Data Series No. 137. Texas Parks and Wildlife, Austin, Texas.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gunter, G. 1945. Studies on marine fishes of Texas.Publications of the Institute of Marine Science 1:1–190.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hansel, H. C., S. D. Duke, P. T. Lofy, andG. A. Gray. 1988. Use of diagnostic bones to identify and estimate original lengths of ingested prey fishes.Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 117:55–62.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hartman, K. J. andF. J. Margraf. 1993. Evidence of predatory control of yellow perch (Perca flavescens) recruitment in Lake Erie, USA.Journal of Fish Biology 43:109–119.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hettler, W. F. 1989. Food habits of juveniles of spotted seatrout and gray snapper in western Florida Bay.Bulletin of Marine Science 44:155–162.

    Google Scholar 

  • Holt, S. A., G. J. Holt, andC. R. Arnold. 1989. Tidal stream transport of larval fishes into non-stratified estuaries.Rapports et Proces-Verbaux des Réunions Conseil International pour l'Exploration de la Mer 191:100–104.

    Google Scholar 

  • Knapp, F. T. 1950. Menhaden utilization in relation to the conservation of food and game fishes of the Texas Gulf coast.Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 79:137–144.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McEachron, L. W., R. L. Colura, B. W. Bumguardner, andR. Ward. 1998. Survival of stocked red drum in Texas.Bulletin of Marine Science 62:359–368.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miles, D. W. 1950. The life histories of the spotted seatrout,Cynoscion nebulosus, and the redfish,Sciaenops ocellatus. Annual Report of the Texas Game, Fish, and Oyster Commission, Rockport Marine Lab, Rockport, Texas.

  • Minello, T. J. andR. J. Zimmerman. 1984. Selection for brown shrimp,Penaeus aztecus, as prey by the spotted seatrout,Cynoscion nebulosus.Contributions in Marine Science 27:159–167.

    Google Scholar 

  • Minello, T. J., R. J. Zimmerman, andE. X. Martinez. 1989. Mortality of young brown shrimpPenaeus aztecus in estuarine nurseries.Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 118:693–708.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nielsen, L. A. 1980. Effect of walleye (Stizostedion vitreum vitreum) predation on juvenile mortality and recruitment of yellow perch (Perca flavescens) in Oneida Lake, New York.Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 37:11–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Overstreet, R. M. andR. W. Heard. 1978. Food of the red drumSciaenops ocellatus from the Mississippi Sound.Gulf Research Reports 6:131–135.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pattillo, M. E., T. E. Czapla, D. M. Nelson, andM. E. Monaco. 1997. Distribution and abundance of fishes and invertebrates in Gulf of Mexico estuaries, Volume II: Species life history summaries. Estuarine Living Marine Resources Report No. 11. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Ocean Service Strategic Environmental Assessments Division, Silver Spring, Maryland.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pearson, J. C. 1929. Natural history and conservation of the redfish and other commercial sciaenids on the Texas coast.Bulletin of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries 44:129–214.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peters, K. M. andR. H. McMichael. 1987. Early life history of the red drum,Sciaenops ocellatus (Pisces: Sciaenidae), in Tampa Bay, Florida.Estuaries 10:92–107.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rice, J. A., L. B. Crowder, andK. A. Rose. 1993. Interactions between size-structured predator and prey populations: Experimental test and model comparison.Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 122:481–491.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rooker, J. R. andS. A. Holt. 1997. Utilization of subtropical seagrass meadows by newly settled red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus): Patterns of distribution and growth.Marine Ecology Progress Series 158:139–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Scharf, F. S., F. Juanes, andM. Sutherland. 1998a. Inferring ecological relationships from the edges of scatter diagrams: Comparison of regression techniques.Ecology 79:448–460.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Scharf, F. S., R. M. Yetter, A. P. Summers, andF. Juanes. 1998b. Enhancing diet analyses of piscivorous fishes in the Northwest Atlantic through identification and reconstruction of original prey sizes from ingested remains.Fishery Bulletin 96:575–588.

    Google Scholar 

  • Simmons, E. G. andJ. P. Breuer. 1962. A study of redfish,Sciaenops, ocellata Linnaeus and black drum,Pogonias cromis Linnaeus.Publications of the Institute of Marine Science 8:189–211.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sissenwine, M. P. and N. Daan. (eds.). 1991. An overview of multispecies models relevant to management of living resources. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea Marine Science Symposium. 193:6–11.

  • Soto, M. A., G. J. Holt, S. A. Holt, andJ. Rooker. 1998. Food habits and dietary overlap of newly settled red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) and Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) from Texas seagrass meadows.Gulf Research Reports 10:41–55.

    Google Scholar 

  • Trippel, E. A. andF. W. H. Beamish. 1987. Characterizing piscivory from ingested remains.Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 116:773–776.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Werner, E. E. andJ. F. Gilliam. 1984. The ontogenetic niche and species interactions in size-structured populations.Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 15:393–426.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Frederick S. Scharf.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Scharf, F.S., Schlicht, K.K. Feeding habits of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) in Galveston Bay, Texas: Seasonal diet variation and predator-prey size relationships. Estuaries 23, 128–139 (2000). https://doi.org/10.2307/1353230

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1353230

Keywords

  • Prey Species
  • Blue Crab
  • Prey Size
  • Carapace Width
  • White Shrimp