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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 203:263-273 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps203263

Enhanced feeding by pelagic juvenile myctophid fishes within a region of island-induced flow disturbance in the Coral Sea

David Rissik*, Iain M. Suthers

School of Biological Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia
*Present address: Estuary Management, Department of Land and Water Conservation, 10 Valentine St, Parramatta, New South Wales 2150, Australia. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: The feeding success of post larvae and juveniles of 2 myctophid fishes (Diaphus kapalae and Myctophum sp.) was compared between the free stream and a flow-disturbed region in the lee of Cato Reef in the south Coral Sea using particle-size analysis. Both taxa fed more successfully in the disturbed region than in the free stream, where uplifting resulted in up to 50% greater concentrations of small (250 to 1000 µm equivalent spherical diameter) prey items at depths between 30 and 70 m around the thermocline. Gut fullness in both taxa was significantly related to the concentrations of small-sized zooplankton (D. kapalae: r = 0.63, p < 0.05; Myctophum sp.: r = 0.55, p < 0.05). There were, however, differences in the sizes of food items consumed in the free stream and the disturbed region and between the 2 taxa of fishes studied. Non parametric multi-dimensional scaling analysis indicated that similar-sized individuals of D. kapalae and Myctophum sp. within a region consumed a different particle-size community, probably enabling them to co-exist. The taxonomic composition of the diets of the 2 taxa reflected the available prey items around the island. In an oligotrophic environment such as the south Coral Sea, island-induced disturbance appeared to be an important contributor to the pelagic food web.

KEY WORDS: Particle size analysis · Island mass effect · Juvenile myctophids · Feeding success · Optical plankton counter

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