Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Trophic shifts in three subtropical Australian halfbeaks (Teleostei : Hemiramphidae)

Ian R. Tibbetts A B and Lee Carseldine A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Marine Studies, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: i.tibbetts@uq.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 56(6) 925-932 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF04305
Submitted: 27 December 2004  Accepted: 25 May 2005   Published: 27 September 2005

Abstract

To elucidate the trophic status of hemiramphids, the diets of three species from subtropical south-east Queensland were investigated. All undergo a marked ontogenetic trophic shift from an animal to plant diet, which occurred between 50 and 70 mm standard length (Ls) for Arrhamphus sclerolepis krefftii (freshwater) and between 80 and 110 mm Ls for both Hyporhamphus regularis ardelio and H. quoyi (both marine). After the ontogenetic shift, the diet of A. sclerolepis krefftii is dominated by filamentous algae, whereas the diet of the two marine species is dominated by Zostera capricorni. The two marine species feed mainly during the day, with gut fullness dropping markedly after dusk. Neither showed evidence of a diel trophic shift between herbivory and carnivory that has been reported for other hemiramphids. The lack of diel trophic switching in these subtropical hemiramphids may suggest that latitudinal effects on daylength and/or water temperature may influence the extent to which hemiramphids switch periodically to animal prey from an otherwise essentially herbivorous diet in order to balance their nutrient requirements.

Extra keywords: diet, garfish, ontogenetic shift, trophic plasticity.


Acknowledgments

We thank Michael Tibbetts, David Brewer, Daniel Gaughan, Scott Cook and others for help with sampling, and Dr Kevin Warburton and anonymous reviewers for critical comments on the manuscript. Love and thanks posthumously to Wendy Barbara Tibbetts (1959–1999) for her dedicated assistance with sampling and data entry.


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