Research Papers

Cross-shelf observations of diet and diel feeding behaviour of the bearded goby Sufflogobius bibarbatus off Namibia

Published in: African Journal of Marine Science
Volume 33, issue 1, 2011 , pages: 119–126
DOI: 10.2989/1814232X.2011.572365
Author(s): M HundtDepartment of Biology, Norway, AC Utne-PalmDepartment of Biology, Norway, MJ GibbonsDepartment of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, South Africa

Abstract

The diet of the bearded goby Sufflogobius bibarbatus was studied at two 48 h stations off the Namibian coast. The inner station (120 m) was characterised by a deep layer of low-oxygen bottom water (<0.5 ml DO l−1 or <10% oxygen saturation) scarcely inhabited by metazoan animal life. Gobies at this station were ∼75 mm total length (TL) and displayed a strong vertical size gradient. The diet of all fish was dominated by sedimented diatoms, and digestion appeared to occur primarily in the oxygen-rich water column at night. By contrast, the environment at the offshore station was characterised by a thin layer of oxygen-poor bottom water, and a richer benthic and zooplankton food environment. Pelagic-caught gobies were significantly shorter (43.3 mm TL) than demersal-caught individuals (99.9 mm TL) throughout 24 h, and the difference in habitat was reflected by differences in diet: pelagic-caught fish ate mostly zooplankton whereas demersal-caught fish ate mostly benthic infauna. In contrast to the situation inshore, digestion appeared to take place throughout 24 h. The results presented here indicate a strong relationship between diet, feeding behaviour and environment, and strengthen conclusions about the dietary opportunism of this species.

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