Fine-scale spatial and temporal variations in diets of the pipefish Stigmatopora nigra within seagrass patches

Authors

  • T. M. Smith,

    Corresponding author
    1. Victorian Marine Science Consortium, P. O. Box 114, Queenscliff, Vic 3225 Australia
    2. Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia
      Author to whom correspondence should be addressed at present address: Wildlife and Ecological Investments, P. O. Box 3288, Somerset West 7129, South Africa. Tel.: +27 72011 9004; email: timsmith11@hotmail.com
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  • J. S. Hindell,

    1. Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia
    2. Arthur Rylah Institute, Department of Sustainability and Environment Victoria, P. O. Box 137, Heidelberg, Victoria 3084, Australia
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  • G. P. Jenkins,

    1. Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia
    2. Marine and Freshwater Fisheries Research Institute, DPI Queenscliff Centre, P. O. Box 114, Queenscliff, Victoria 3225, Australia
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  • R. M. Connolly,

    1. Australian Rivers InstituteCoast and Estuaries, and School of Environment, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland 4222, Australia
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  • M. J. Keough

    1. Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed at present address: Wildlife and Ecological Investments, P. O. Box 3288, Somerset West 7129, South Africa. Tel.: +27 72011 9004; email: timsmith11@hotmail.com

Abstract

Diets of the pipefish Stigmatopora nigra were analysed to determine if food availability was causing S. nigra to distribute according to habitat edge effects. Gut analysis found little difference in the diets of S. nigra at the edge and interior of seagrass patches, regardless of time of day or season. Fish diets did, however, vary with seagrass density: S. nigra in denser seagrass consumed more harpacticoid copepods and fewer planktonic copepods. The lack of difference in prey eaten by S. nigra at the edge and interior of patches suggests either that food was not determining S. nigra distribution patterns within patches or that differences in fish densities across patches meant that relative fish–prey densities were similar at edge and interior positions. Alternatively, any edge effects in diet might be masked by gradients in seagrass structure.

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