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Fish trophic structure in estuaries, with particular emphasis on estuarine typology and zoogeography

Authors

  • T. D. Harrison,

    Corresponding author
    1. Northern Ireland Environment Agency, 17 Antrim Road, Tonagh, Lisburn, County Antrim, Northern Ireland BT28 3AL, U.K.
      Tel.: +44 28 92623242; email: trevor.harrison@doeni.gov.uk
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  • A. K. Whitfield

    1. South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, Private Bag 1015, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
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Tel.: +44 28 92623242; email: trevor.harrison@doeni.gov.uk

Abstract

A comparative analysis of the fish trophic structure was undertaken on some 190 South African estuaries spanning three zoogeographic regions and incorporating three broad estuarine types. Fish biomass trophic guild compositions and biomass trophic spectrum profiles were analysed using multivariate statistical techniques and included both inter-regional (zoogeographic) and intra-regional (estuarine typology) comparisons. Differences in the fish trophic structure of the various estuary types within each zoogeographic region were observed; these were linked to the relative biomass contribution of the various trophic guilds and also to differences in biomass trophic spectrum profiles of the fishes in each estuary type within each region. In spite of these differences in trophic structure, all estuaries were dominated by detritivores, which suggests that the main food source (detritus) is similar in all biogeographic regions. Preliminary indications are that a similar dependence by estuary-associated fishes on detritus food sources exists on a global basis but that detailed studies are required in order to confirm this assertion.

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