Do closely related species share of feeding niche along growth? Diets of three sympatric species of the mojarras (Actinopterygii: Gerreidae) in a tropical bay in southeastern Brazil
Understanding the trophic relationships among closely related species is a way to obtain subsidies for their management and conservation of their habitats. The diets of three co-occurring abundant fish species of the Gerreidae family (Diapterus rhombeus, Eucinostomus argenteus and Eucinostomus gula) in a tropical bay were described. The tested hypothesis was that the three sympatric species present shifts in their use of resource during the ontogenetic development to facilitate their coexistence. Size groups for each species were categorized according to breakpoints in the morphological structures determined by piecewise regression models. Significant overlapping in diets was found for all size classes of D. rhombeus but not for size classes of the Eucinostomus genus. Furthermore, different size classes of D. rhombeus did not overlap diet with size classes of the Eucinostomus genus. The specialization in feeding niches corresponding to growth seems to bring benefits for this group of fish rather than a generalist feeding strategy. The hypothesis of the available resources partitioning was accepted only between the two genera (Diapterus and Eucinostomus), and among size classes of the Eucinostomus genus that seemed to follow the principle of limiting similarity. However, different size classes of D. rhombeus exhibited strong evidence of an intraspecific overlapping of the trophic niche. It seems that different processes related to use of the trophic niche dimension are structuring these closely related fish species.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10641-018-0750-2
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