Dietary overlap of carcharhinid sharks in the Gulf of Papua

Published on
11 February 2022

Dietary overlap of carcharhinid sharks in the Gulf of Papua

Leontine Baje, Andrew Chin, William T. White C D, Colin A. Simpfendorfer


Assessing the feeding patterns of sharks provides insight into ecological interactions. Three coastal sharks are common by-catch in the Gulf of Papua prawn fishery in Papua New Guinea. The diets of Carcharhinus coatesi (n = 122), Rhizoprionodon acutus (n = 83) and Rhizoprionodon taylori (n = 177) were assessed using stomach content analysis. Teleosts, crustaceans and molluscs were the main prey. Percentage frequency of occurrence (%FO) and percentage frequency by number (%N) were computed to describe dietary compositions. Non-metric multidimensional scaling and Morisita Index determined the level of feeding overlap. Rhizoprionodon taylori was a generalist feeder having the broadest diet, R. acutus was the most selective feeder, preying predominantly on teleosts and C. coatesi consumed the greatest proportion of crustaceans that increased with size. The pairwise ANOSIM tests showed significant difference in dietary compositions of R. acutus and R. taylori (P = 0.1%, R = 0.318) and R. acutus and C. coatesi (P = 0.1%, R = 0.589), which indicate potential resource partitioning. Further work should aim to adequately characterise diets, improve prey identification and investigate spatial and temporal resource use patterns. Understanding ecological processes informs ecosystem approaches fisheries management.

Marine and Freshwater Research, DOI: 10.1071/MF21212


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