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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 27:155-168 (2015)  -  DOI:

Ontogenetic dietary and habitat shifts in goliath grouper Epinephelus itajara from French Guiana

C. Artero1,2,4,*, C. C. Koenig2, P. Richard3, R. Berzins1, G. Guillou3, C. Bouchon4, L. Lampert5

1Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, 44 rue Pasteur, BP 10808, 97338 Cayenne cedex, French Guiana
2Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory, 3618 Coastal Highway 98, St Teresa Beach, FL 32358, USA
3Littoral Environnement et Sociétés, UMR 7266 CNRS-Université de La Rochelle, 2 rue Olympa de Gouges, 17000 La Rochelle, France
4Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, Labex CORAIL, équipe DYNECAR, 97159 Pointe à Pitre, Guadeloupe (French West Indies)
5Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la MER, Dyneco/Pelagos, 29280 Plouzané, France
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The ecology, particularly the trophic ecology, of the Critically Endangered goliath grouper Epinephelus itajara (Lichtenstein 1822) in French Guiana (France) is relatively unknown. Such information would provide a better understanding of the role that goliath groupers play in the marine ecosystem of French Guiana. This study focused on the feeding ecology of the goliath grouper through stomach-content and stable-isotope analyses of captured specimens. The dietary composition of goliath groupers in French Guiana was similar to that of goliath groupers from other areas of the species’ range. However, in French Guiana, goliath groupers exhibited an ontogenetic shift in diet that has not been demonstrated elsewhere. Crustaceans, primarily crabs, were dominant in the diet of smaller individuals (<120 cm), whereas demersal fishes, particularly catfish (Siluriformes), dominated the diet of larger individuals. Analysis of δ13C and δ15N in muscle samples indicated that: (1) larger fish fed more on higher trophic levels; (2) low seasonal and spatial variation existed in the diet; and (3) an apparent migration of early juveniles occurred from mangrove areas to rocky reefs. In French Guiana, adult and juvenile goliath groupers share marine rocky habitat, and the data suggest they may avoid food competition by a shift in diet with size.

KEY WORDS: Epinephelidae · Critically Endangered species · Stomach contents · Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes · Dietary shift · Migration · Mangroves · Diet

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Cite this article as: Artero C, Koenig CC, Richard P, Berzins R, Guillou G, Bouchon C, Lampert L (2015) Ontogenetic dietary and habitat shifts in goliath grouper Epinephelus itajara from French Guiana. Endang Species Res 27:155-168.

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