Investigations into the diet and feeding ecology of the bearded goby Sufflogobius bibarbatus off Namibia
AbstractThe bearded goby Sufflogobius bibarbatus has come to replace sardine Sardinops sagax in the diets of many top predators within the marine environment off Namibia, and it is playing a key role within the region’s foodweb. Previously published information on the diet of the bearded goby has been derived from small samples and has been contradictory. We investigated the gut contents of over 3 500 specimens of S. bibarbatus from two separate studies. The results indicate that the species has a fairly generalised diet, feeding mostly on benthic and pelagic animals (phytoplankton was rare), in a way that reflects ontogeny, habitat and likely prey availability. Smaller, more pelagic individuals included a substantial number of pelagic organisms in their diet and the proportion of benthic organisms increased with the size of the goby. Given the importance of this species in recycling benthic carbon through the foodweb of the northern Benguela ecosystem, there is a need to describe and quantify the benthic food environment.
Keywords: Benguela, benthic-pelagic coupling, ecosystem approach to fisheries, infauna, polychaetes, zooplankton
African Journal of Marine Science 2011, 33(2): 313–320