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Diet of marine fish larvae and juveniles that use rocky intertidal pools at the Portuguese coast

Authors

  • M. Dias,

    1. Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, Lisboa, Portugal
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  • A. Silva,

    1. CVRM-Centro de Geosistemas, Departamento Engenharia Civil, Arquitectura e Georecursos, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal
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  • H. N. Cabral,

    1. Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, Lisboa, Portugal
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  • C. Vinagre

    Corresponding author
    1. Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, Lisboa, Portugal
    • Author's address: Catarina Vinagre, Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, P-1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal.

      E-mail: cmvinagre@fc.ul.pt

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Summary

The use of tidal pools during early ontogeny is likely to enhance growth, condition and survival chances of the transient marine fish larvae and juveniles that use them. However, the diet of such individuals within tidal pools is poorly known; this knowledge is important to understand why such high numbers of individuals use these environments in spring and summer on the Portuguese coast. Transient marine fishes were sampled monthly over a two-year period in four tidal pools of a rocky reef on the west Portuguese coast. The diet composition in the tidal pools of the most abundant marine fish larvae/juveniles, Diplodus sargus and Atherina spp., were investigated. Stomach and gut contents of 483 individuals (354 D. sargus ranging in total length from 9 to 87 mm and 134 Atherina spp. ranging in total length from 10 to 31 mm) were analyzed and dietary indices estimated for the different developmental stages. The diet of D. sargus composed mainly harpacticoid copepods, chironomid larvae, ostracods, chironomid adults and amphipods; whereas the diet of Atherina spp. was mainly harpacticoid copepods, ostracods and gastropods. Along the ontogenetic development, the proportions and diversity of food items in the D. sargus diet varied. Importance of the harpacticoid copepods decreased with increasing fish size, while that of amphipods and isopods increased. Larvae and juvenile D. sargus and Atherina spp. found in rocky reef tidal pools are opportunistic consumers of a wide range of prey and thus take advantage of the high prey availability in these habitats.

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