Population characteristics, habitat and diet of a recently discovered stingray Dasyatis marianae
Published online on 06. January 2015
Population characteristics, habitat and diet of a recently discovered stingray Dasyatis marianae: implications for conservation
T. L. A. Costa, J. A. Thayer, L. F. Mendes
This study examined population density, habitat and diet of Dasyatis marianae, a recently discovered species, in the reef complex of Maracajaú in Rio Grande do Norte state, Brazil. The highest concentration of D. marianae occurred in seagrass beds. Habitat use differed significantly between sex and age classes, with females and juveniles using areas other than reefs. Females utilized primarily seagrass beds and juveniles occurred mainly along the sandy bottom near the beach, highlighting the importance of protecting these areas. Dasyatis marianae diet was characterized primarily by crustaceans (91·9% index of relative importance, IRI), including shrimp, crabs and lobsters. The availability of prey in different habitat types influences occupation by D. marianae, but the prey selectivity of D. marianae, among other factors, may affect this relationship. Intense shrimp and lobster fishing in the region probably has an effect on preferred prey resources of this ray. Information on feeding habits of this species contributes to a better understanding of trophic dynamics and food webs, which is critical if ecosystem principles are to be integrated into fisheries management.
Journal of Fish Biology. doi: 10.1111/jfb.12572