Spatial aspects of the reproductive and feeding biology of the striped robber, Brycinus lateralis (Pisces: Characidae), in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta is a vast inland wetland system situated in northern Botswana. High rainfall is received in early summer in the southern Angolan highlands and throughout the Delta with the flood waters reaching the upper riverine floodplain between March and May where it percolates through to the lower drainage rivers between July and September. Aspects of the reproductive and feeding biology of two allopatric populations of the striped robber, Brycinus lateralis, a small characin species inhabiting the northern riverine floodplain and southern drainage rivers, were investigated. Both populations were similar in the biological aspects studied, with the flood cycle having little influence on the timing of reproduction, sexual maturity and dietary composition. Female fish from both populations matured sexually at 57mmSL, breeding over a protracted period during the warm, summer months. In both populations, the sex ratio was female-dominated at 4.8:1 (riverine floodplain) and 2.2:1 (drainage rivers). The striped robber is an opportunistic micro-carnivore with immature fish feeding predominantly on Daphnia spp. and adults being largely insectivorous.
Key words: reproductive seasonality, sexual maturity, diet, characin, ontological dietary shift, flood cycle.