Diet, feeding behaviour and habitat utilisation of the blue stingray Dasyatis chrysonota (Smith, 1828) in South African waters
David A. Ebert and Paul D. Cowley
Marine and Freshwater Research
54(8) 957 - 965
Published: 30 December 2003
Analysis of stomach contents for Dasyatis chrysonota revealed that diet varied with size and habitat. The diet of all size classes in the surf zone was comprised primarily of Callianassa spp., Donax spp. and unidentified polychaete species. The medium and large size classes fed primarily on Donax spp., whereas the very large size class fed mainly on Callianassa spp. Polychaetes were of secondary importance as prey for the medium size class. The diet of D. chrysonota in the nearshore zone consisted mainly of Balanoglossus capensis and Callianassa spp. Balanoglossus capensis decreased from an index of relative importance (IRI) of 75.3% for the medium size class to 59.9% for the very large size class, whereas Callianassa spp. increased from 22.8% to 39.4% between the medium and the very large size classes. The offshore zone was the only area in which small size class D. chrysonota were caught. The diet of these small D. chrysonota was primarily polychaetes and amphipods. Polychaetes increased in importance in the medium size class, but declined in each successively larger size class. Conversely, Pterygosquilla armata capensis became the single most important prey item for the very large size class, comprising an IRI of 50.9%. The behaviour pattern used by D. chrysonota to locate and extract prey is described. Keywords: benthic communities, predation, size class, stomach contents, surf zone.
Full text doi:10.1071/MF03069
© CSIRO 2003