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Trophic ecology of coral reef gobies: interspecific, ontogenetic, and seasonal comparison of diet and feeding intensity
Hernaman, V.; Probert, P.K.; Robbins, W.D. (2009). Trophic ecology of coral reef gobies: interspecific, ontogenetic, and seasonal comparison of diet and feeding intensity. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 156(3): 317-330.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Hernaman, V.
  • Probert, P.K.
  • Robbins, W.D.

    In fishes, a small body size may facilitate cost-effective exploitation of various primary and secondary food resources, but may pose difficulties associated with digestion of plant material and finding sufficient food in a foraging area potentially restricted by a high risk of predation. We examined the trophic ecology of five common, small-bodied coral reef fish from the family Gobiidae. For each species, we determined diet composition, feeding bite rate, foraging substrate, and feeding behaviour, and examined whether diet composition and feeding bite rate changed ontogenetically and seasonally. The five species showed a diverse range of trophic modes: Amblygobius bynoensis and Amblygobius phalaena were herbivores, Valenciennea muralis was a carnivore, Asterropteryx semipunctatus a detritivore, and Istigobius goldmanni an omnivore. Both the herbivores and detritivore supplemented their diet with animal material. The consumption of a wide range of dietary resources by the two smallest species with the most restricted mobility (A. semipunctatus and I. goldmanni) may ensure energy requirements are met within a restricted foraging area. There was a significant difference in mean feeding bite rate among species, with carnivore > herbivore > omnivore > detritivore. None of the species exhibited an ontogenetic shift in diet composition or increase in feeding bite rate, indicating that (1) postmaturation growth is not facilitated by a higher quality diet or increased feeding intensity following maturation, and (2) their small body size does not preclude herbivory. The herbivores had the highest gut:fish length ratio, which may facilitate plant digestion. While diet did not change seasonally, the mean feeding bite rate was significantly lower in winter than summer for four of the study species.

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