Diet and gill morphology of the East Coast redeye round herring Etrumeus wongratanai off KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Stomach content analyses and measurements of gillraker morphology were used to assess the diet and feeding ecology of the East Coast redeye round herring Etrumeus wongratanai and provide data for comparisons with other small pelagic fishes off South Africa. Samples were collected by jigging from a kayak off Scottburgh, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), over the period July 2013–May 2014. In total, 66 stomachs (containing 4 407 prey items) and 66 gill arches were examined. Stomach content analyses indicated that East Coast redeye round herring, at the time of sampling, fed on large (1 500–2 500 μm) particles, with ~2 500 μm particles making the greatest contribution to dietary carbon. The species feeds on larger particles than do anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus and sardine Sardinops sagax, but on particles of a similar size to those consumed by West Coast redeye round herring Etrumeus whiteheadi. There were significant differences in mean gillraker gaps between East Coast redeye round herring and both sardine and anchovy, but not between East Coast and West Coast redeye round herring. The differences in gillraker gaps between East Coast redeye round herring, sardine and anchovy are indicative of resource partitioning through differential feeding, based on zooplankton size. The data suggest that there is no resource partitioning between East and West coast redeye round herring, indicating that competition is likely to occur between them. However, such competition is minimised by limited spatial overlap between these two species.
Keywords: diet, gillrakers, resource partitioning, trophic dynamics