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

Diets and trophic guilds of demersal fishes of the south-eastern Australian shelf

C. Bulman, F. Althaus, X. He, N. J. Bax and A. Williams

Marine and Freshwater Research 52(4) 537 - 548
Published: 2001


A total of 8200 stomach samples was collected from 102 fish species caught by trawl or gillnet during research surveys on the south-eastern Australian shelf from 1993 to 1996. Diet compositions were analysed based on percentages of wet weight of prey. Of the total fish examined, 70 species had sufficient stomach samples (i.e. >10) for further analysis. Ten trophic guilds were identified from cluster analysis. Benthic prey dominated the diets. However, analysis on a subset of 28 abundant species that were commercially and ecologically important, showed that pelagic prey was dominant, particularly for 12 quota species. This suggests that pelagic production contributes significantly to the trawl fishery production. Further analysis on the diets of these 28 species found that although fish was more important than invertebrate prey, there was no evidence of significant predation on commercially important species (quota species)by other fish species. A food web diagram was constructed, mostly based on the diet compositions, guild structure and relative abundance of commercially and ecologically important fish species, to show major trophic interactions of the shelf ecosystem.

© CSIRO 2001

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