Dietary partitioning by five stingray species on coral reefs

paperPublished online on 24. April 2013

Dietary partitioning by five sympatric species of stingray (Dasyatidae) on coral reefs

O. R. O’Shea, M. Thums, M. van Keulen, R. M. Kempster, M. G. Meekan


Dietary characteristics and the degree of dietary partitioning by five species of sympatric stingray were assessed using stomach content and sediment analyses within a coral reef lagoon at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia (the cowtail Pastinachus atrus, blue-spotted fantail Taeniura lymma, blue-spotted mask Neotrygon kuhlii, porcupine Urogymnus asperrimus rays and the reticulate whipray Himantura uarnak). A total of 2804 items were recovered from the stomachs of 170 rays and 3215 individual taxa from the environment, which were used in selectivity analyses. Twenty-four prey taxa were identified from stomach contents and pooled into 10 taxonomic categories for analysis, of which annelids, prawns, brachyurans and bivalves were the most abundant, together accounting for 96% of the diet. Himantura uarnak had the greatest interspecific dissimilarity in diet, consuming a larger proportion of crustaceans, notably penaeids (41% of total diet) than the other four species of rays, all of which had diets dominated by annelids (71–82% of total diet). Crustacean specialization by H. uarnak may exist to maximize resources and reduce competition among sympatric species. The remaining species may partition resources on the basis of space, rather than diet.

Journal of Fish Biology. Early View Version, doi: 10.1111/jfb.12104



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