AB 20:23-33 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00530

Trophic niche differences between two congeneric goby species: evidence for ontogenetic diet shift and habitat use

Zhiqiang Guo1,2,3, Jiashou Liu1,*, Sovan Lek1,2, Zhongjie Li1, Fengyue Zhu1, Jianfeng Tang1, Julien Cucherousset

1State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430072, PR China
2CNRS, Université Paul Sabatier, ENFA, UMR5174 EDB (Laboratoire Évolution & Diversité Biologique),
118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse, France
3State Key Laboratory of Oceanography in the Tropics, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510301, PR China
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Food partitioning is one of the primary mechanisms facilitating the stable co-occurrence of competing species, but very few studies have investigated how food resource use of competing and closely related species varies with life-history stages and habitats. In Lake Erhai (China), the trophic niche of 2 congeneric and co-occurring invasive goby species (Rhinogobius cliffordpopei and R. giurinus) was examined to test the existence of an ontogenetic diet shift and to determine potential differences in trophic niche between species within a habitat and between habitats (i.e. littoral and profundal) within species. Results obtained from gut content and stable isotope analyses revealed a strong trophic niche shift during ontogeny, whereby juveniles mainly consumed macrozooplankton while sub-adults and adults increasingly consumed aquatic insects and Tubificidae. The trophic niche of juveniles was similar between species in each of the 2 habitats but significantly different for sub-adults and adults, notably in littoral habitat. Moreover, the trophic niche was similar between habitats for juveniles of each species, whereas it differed significantly between habitats for sub-adults and adults. This study demonstrates the importance of ontogeny and shows that habitat use can significantly affect food resource use and trophic relationships between 2 co-occurring fish species.


KEY WORDS: Species co-occurrence · Niche differentiation · Ontogenetic niche shift · Stable isotope analyses · Rhinogobius · Gut content analysis


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Cite this article as: Guo Z, Liu J, Lek S, Li Z, Zhu F, Tang J, Cucherousset J (2014) Trophic niche differences between two congeneric goby species: evidence for ontogenetic diet shift and habitat use. Aquat Biol 20:23-33. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00530

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