Whitemouth croaker Micropogonias furnieri (Desmarest, 1823) feeding strategies across four southern Brazilian estuaries

Mendoza-Carranza, Manuel; Vieira Sobrinho, João Paes


We test the hypothesis that predatory benthic fishes play a similar ecological role in different estuaries by displaying the same feeding strategy. We used whitemouth croaker (Micropogonias furnieri) populations in four southern Brazilian estuaries (Mampituba (29 12¢ S), Tramandaı ´ (30 02¢ S), Patos Lagoon (32 10¢ S) and Chuı´ (33 44¢ S)) as a model. We compared feeding strategies based on a graphical method proposed by Amundsen et al. [(1996) J Fish Biol. 48:607–614], with confidence intervals of frequency of occurrence of prey (FO) and preyspecific abundance (PSA) estimated by bootstrap analyses. We test differences among diets in the four estuaries used the ANOSIM and SIMPER analyses. We minimize the effect of fish size on prey selectivity by restricting the diet analysis to 70–130 mm size classes. Across all estuaries, infaunal prey was the dominant item in the whitemouth croaker’s diet. Most individuals fed on dominant infaunal prey such as Polychaetes (Chuı´: FO = 0.55 ± 0.018 SD; PSA = 0.88 ± 0.016 and Mampituba: FO = 0.73 ± 0.037; PSA = 0.56 ± 0.056), Bivalves (Tramandaı´: FO= 0.58 ± 0.032; PSA = 0.92 ± 0.024) and Tanaidaceans (Patos Lagoon: FO = 0.63 ± 0.027; PSA = 0.62 ± 0.043). A between-phenotype contribution to the niche width was observed in all four estuaries, where individuals generally consumed relatively large amounts of different prey types in the same habitat and season.Whitemouth croaker have a zoobenthivore feeding strategy and seemed to maintain the same feeding strategy in all the four estuaries. Specialization on consuming infaunal prey displayed by juveniles of whitemouth croaker could be an important factor leading to the successful colonization of South American estuaries.

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