Recruiting King George whiting Sillaginodes punctatus were studied to assess the potential for food competition with permanent resident fish species in a nursery habitat. Marine migrant post larval S. punctatus (<60 mm TL) consumed primarily harpacticoid copepods and had high (>0.6) diet overlap with permanent resident fish species Favonigobius leteralis and Stigmatopora nigra. Food electivity index indicated that S. punctatus juveniles preferred harpacticoid copepods and amphipods, while juvenile Heteroclinus adelaide and Gymnapistes marmoratus migrating to the nursery habitat targeted larger prey such as amphipods. Preference for larger prey by H. adelaide and G. marmoratus species coupled with differences in prey composition in the stomach was due to mouth size and feeding habits, resulting in different food preferences to S. punctatus. The whiting showed an ontogenetic shift in diet with early settlers (>60 mm TL) consuming less copepods and more amphipods, while previous year recruits (>120 mm TL) consumed polychaete worms. This study indicates that competition for food resources between the new recruiting S. punctatus juveniles and permanent resident juveniles is reduced through differences in temporal and spatial feeding behaviours, mouth morphology, and ontogenetic shift in prey consumption.
|Number of pages||18|
|Journal||New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research|
|Publication status||Published - 2 Apr 2020|
- King George whiting
- resource partitioning