The importance of zooplankton in the diets of three native fish species in floodplain waterholes of a dryland river, the Macintyre River, Australia
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The zooplankton of freshwater systems has been recognized as an important energy resource for fish of small body size that, in turn, provide energy to piscivorous fish consumers higher up the food web. This study evaluates the importance of zooplankton to the diets of three species of fish living in floodplain waterholes of an Australian dryland river. The species selected for study represent different trophic categories in waterhole food webs: Ambassis agassizii is a microcarnivore, Leiopotherapon unicolor is an omnivore, and Nematalosa erebi is a detritivore. Dietary differences among size classes of each species were also evaluated to understand possible ontogenetic shifts in zooplankton consumption. Ambassis agassizii fed primarily on zooplankton (99.9%, made up mostly of 81.6% Calanoida and 17.4% Moinidae), regardless of the size of individual fish. Leiopotherapon unicolor fed on zooplankton (47%, mostly Daphniidae and Moinidae) and aquatic insects (46.7%). Smaller individuals of Leiopotherapon unicolor (30-49 mm TL-total length) were responsible for 36.1% of the plankton consumed by the species. Nematalosa erebi fed on detritus (84.6%) with zooplankton (Calanoida, Moinidae, and Cyclopoida) contributing only 13.7% of the mean diet. Smaller individuals (40-69 mm TL) were responsible for 98% of the plankton consumed by Nematalosa erebi, and individuals of 40-49 mm (TL) fed exclusively on zooplankton (53.8% Moinidae and 46.2% Calanoida). Although the three fish species had different diets, reflecting differences in species-specific and ontogenetic morphological and behavioral characteristics, zooplankton formed the basis of the diet of all species when young. These results confirm the importance of zooplankton as a major food resource for three fish species and smaller size classes of these species in floodplain waterholes of the Macintyre River, Australia.
Hydrobiologia: the international journal on limnology and marine sciences
© 2008 Springer-Verlag. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com