Trophic niche differences between two congeneric goby species: evidence for ontogenetic diet shift and habitat use

Z Guo, J Liu, S Lek, Z Li, F Zhu, J Tang, J Cucherousset
2014 Aquatic Biology  
Food partitioning is one of the primary mechanisms facilitating the stable cooccurrence of competing species, but very few studies have investigated how food resource use of competing and closely related species varies with life-history stages and habitats. In Lake Erhai (China), the trophic niche of 2 congeneric and co-occurring invasive goby species (Rhinogobius cliffordpopei and R. giurinus) was examined to test the existence of an ontogenetic diet shift and to determine potential
more » ... otential differences in trophic niche between species within a habitat and between habitats (i.e. littoral and profundal) within species. Results obtained from gut content and stable isotope analyses revealed a strong trophic niche shift during ontogeny, whereby juveniles mainly consumed macrozooplankton while sub-adults and adults increasingly consumed aquatic insects and Tubificidae. The trophic niche of juveniles was similar between species in each of the 2 habitats but significantly different for sub-adults and adults, notably in littoral habitat. Moreover, the trophic niche was similar between habitats for juveniles of each species, whereas it differed significantly between habitats for sub-adults and adults. This study demonstrates the importance of ontogeny and shows that habitat use can significantly affect food resource use and trophic relationships between 2 co-occurring fish species. KEY WORDS: Species co-occurrence · Niche differentiation · Ontogenetic niche shift · Stable isotope analyses · Rhinogobius · Gut content analysis Resale or republication not permitted without written consent of the publisher
doi:10.3354/ab00530 fatcat:zwp65xvmsbhtfgpvrpey6mdziu