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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 624:131-141 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13027

Multiple niche-based analyses reveal the dual life of an intertidal reef predator

Ryan Andrades1,2,*, Juliana M. Andrade1, Pedro S. Jesus-Junior1, Raphael M. Macieira3, Angelo F. Bernardino1, Tommaso Giarrizzo2, Jean-Christophe Joyeux1

1Departamento de Oceanografia e Ecologia, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Vitória, 29075-910 Espírito Santo, Brazil
2Núcleo de Ecologia Aquática e Pesca da Amazônia, Universidade Federal do Pará, Terra Firme, Belém, 66040-170, PA, Brazil
3Laboratório de Ecologia Marinha, Universidade Vila Velha, 29102-920 Espírito Santo, Brazil
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Intraspecific niche shifts occur in nature and can be measured from different ecological views, including distributional, dietary and behavioral aspects. While the ecological niche concept is widely known and adopted, it has been applied to very different approaches in ecological investigations. In this study, we addressed 4 niche-based analyses (spatial, dietary, isotopic and functional) to investigate whether the ecological niche of the intertidal predatory fish Labrisomus nuchipinnis varies ontogenetically between juvenile and adult stages. L. nuchipinnis adults inhabited more complex intertidal tidepools dominated by calcareous algae, rocky rubbles and macroalgae, whereas juveniles occurred in pools with a predominantly sandy substrate. Also, dietary and isotopic niches indicated a trophic niche partitioning between juveniles and adults, with the latter foraging on more diverse (8 vs. 2 dominant prey types) and large-sized food resources (e.g. grapsid crabs). The ecological functional niche based on 10 morphological traits corroborated that juveniles and adults did not overlap their niches in functional space, which may facilitate juvenile survival and adult growth in a semi-confined intertidal ecosystem. Our study revealed that L. nuchipinnis exhibits a marked niche change during its life cycle, thus acting as distinct ecological species along its ontogenetic development. This evidence suggests that niche variations within coastal marine ecosystems may be a strategy to increase fitness in a highly competitive environment.


KEY WORDS: Ontogeny · Tidepool · Rockpool · Atlantic · Tropical · Niche


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Cite this article as: Andrades R, Andrade JM, Jesus-Junior PS, Macieira RM, Bernardino AF, Giarrizzo T, Joyeux JC (2019) Multiple niche-based analyses reveal the dual life of an intertidal reef predator. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 624:131-141. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13027

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