Trophic ecology of dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus (Actinopterygii, Epinephelidae) in littoral and neritic habitats of southern Brazil as elucidated by stomach contents and stable isotope analyses

Condini, Mario Vinicius Lopes; Hoeinghaus, David Joseph; Garcia, Alexandre Miranda


Groupers are large-bodied fishes with broad global distribution and commercial and ecological importance. Many grouper species are endangered, but information on trophic ecology of groupers outside the Mediterranean Sea is limited. We integrated stomach contents analyses (SCA) and stable isotope analyses (SIA) to test the hypotheses that diets of dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus differ between littoral and neritic zones in the southwestern Atlantic, but exhibit similar ontogenetic shifts in prey size and consumption of fishes. SCA were dominated by fishes, crabs, and shrimp and differed significantly between habitats, but prey size and consumption of fishes increased with grouper body size at both sites. Grouper stable isotope ratios were similar between sites and among size classes, but integrating SCA and SIA distinguished ingested versus assimilated dietary components, improved dietary resolution, and provided a more comprehensive assessment of grouper in the food webs. Dusky grouper integrate benthic and pelagic trophic pathways, as well as estuarine and marine food webs via consumption of migratory prey. Our findings have applications to other threatened grouper populations, for example, in managing fragmented populations or for reserve designs considering inclusion of artificial substrates as grouper habitat, and more broadly for approaches examining trophic ecology of generalist predators

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  • IO - Artigos publicados em periódicos