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Zoologia (Curitiba)

Print version ISSN 1984-4670On-line version ISSN 1984-4689

Zoologia (Curitiba) vol.33 no.6 Curitiba  2016  Epub Dec 15, 2016

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/s1984-4689zool-20160062 

ECOLOGY

Use of food resources and resource partitioning among five syntopic species of Hypostomus (Teleostei: Loricariidae) in an Atlantic Forest river in southern Brazil

Vinicius Abilhoa1  * 

Marcos O. Valduga2 

Fabricio de A. Frehse2 

Jean R.S. Vitule3 

1Grupo de Pesquisas em Ictiofauna, Museu de História Natural Capão da Imbuia. Rua Prof. Benedito Conceição 407, 82810-080 Curitiba, PR, Brazil.

2Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação, Setor de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal do Paraná. Curitiba, PR, Brazil

3Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação, Departamento de Engenharia Ambiental, Setor de Tecnologia, Universidade Federal do Paraná. Curitiba, PR, Brazil.

ABSTRACT

We analyzed the diet and resource partitioning among five syntopic species of Hypostomus Lacépède, 1803 in the Corumbataí River in southeastern Brazil. The gut contents of 352 individuals were assessed and 21 food items were identified and quantified under an optical microscope. The food items found in the gut contents indicate that these suckermouth loricariids are bottom-dwelling detritivorous/periphytivorous catfishes. PERMANOVA and SIMPER analyses indicated variation in the consumption of some resources, and the contribution of periphytic algae was primarily responsible for such dissimilarity. ECOSIM analyses of dietary overlap showed evidence of resource sharing among all species in the dry and rainy periods. This is most likely the result of the predominance of detritus and autochthonous items such as algae and aquatic immature insects in all gut contents. Our data suggest that trophic resources available in the Corumbataí River are explored and partitioned among Hypostomus species, all specialized in surface-grazing foraging behaviour.

KEY WORDS: armoured catfish; feeding; food overlap; periphyton; Siluriformes

The suckermouth armored catfishes of the genus Hypostomus Lacépède, 1803 are bottom-dwelling loricariids. They are characterized by certain morphological specializations such as outstanding structural modifications on the feeding apparatus (Schaefer 1987) and shape of the intestine (Podkowa & Goniakowska-Witalińska 2003). The ventrally oriented oral disc with adhesive papillae and comb-like tooth plates of the upper and lower jaws, depressed body and paired fin orientation are morphological adaptations to fast flowing aquatic environments (Burgess 1989). These adaptations allow them to strongly adhere to and scrap uneven and structurally complex substrates (Schaefer & Lauder 1986).

Although many armored catfishes normally feed on algae growing on submerged surfaces (Buck & Sazima 1995, Pagotto et al. 2011, Power 1984), studies on the diet of Hypostomus indicate that they can also feed on detritus and other small food items (Cardone et al. 2006, Delariva & Agostinho 2001, Mazzoni et al. 2010). This typically benthic feeding habit has important effects on primary production, nutrient cycling and macro invertebrates drift, among other direct and indirect ecological effects (Dudgeon 1993, Fausch et al. 2002, McIntyre et al. 2007).

In the Neotropical region, several studies analyzed the relationships between armored catfishes with similar morphological characteristics and feeding ecology (e.g., Delariva & Agostinho 2001, Casatti & Castro 2006, Ferreira 2007, Pagotto et al. 2011), showing the influence of adaptive variations in the feeding-mode on the segregation of trophic niches, with important consequences for resource utilization and interactions among coexisting species (Delariva & Agostinho 2001).

The coexistence of functionally similar species can be promoted through differential use of resources. Resource partitioning includes food, habitat and/or temporal segregation (e.g., Pianka 1973, Schoener 1974, Ross 1986), and has been extensively documented among Neotropical fishes (e.g., Winemiller 1989, Jepsen et al. 1997, Merona & Rankin-de-Merona 2004, Silva et al. 2012). The degree of overlap in the use of available resources among sympatric, similar species is variable, and interactions are associated, for example, with seasonal and/or spatial fluctuations (Winemiller et al. 2008), ontogenetic variations (Frehse et al. 2015), and competition (Fausch et al. 2002). The availability and use of resources play an important role in regulating the biomass, the structure and functioning of the fish community and ecosystem (Fausch et al. 2002, Winemiller et al. 2008), and contribute to the maintenance of the high functional and taxo nomic diversity of the Neotropical ichthyofauna.

In this study we examined patterns of food utilization of five syntopic species of Hypostomus , which are common and abundant inhabitants of lotic aquatic ecosystems in the Neotropical region. Despite the influence of seasonal changes (Dry or Rainy seasons), we expected that the overlap in the diet of those species would be substantial since they are morphologically similar. Specifically, we attempted to determine whether information on diet and feeding overlap could throw a light on how the available resources are exploited.

MATERIAL AND METHODS

This study was conducted in the Corumbataí River (24°14'S and 51°56'W), in a stretch of approximately 20 km. In this stretch, the river is very homogenous in its general characte ristics. There are no artificial and natural barriers (e.g. waterfalls, dams), the average depth is 0.62 m, the average channel width is 26 m, the canopy cover is 25%, the river velocity is 17 m s-1, and the substrate consists mainly of sand, gravel and rocks. All adjacent regions are surrounded by agriculture and livestock. The Corumbataí River flows into the Ivaí River, a tributary of the left bank of the upper Paraná River, which has a drainage area of 36,899 km2 and extends for approximately 675 km. It is located in the aquatic ecoregion known as the Upper Paraná, with a reported richness of 310 species and many endemic catfishes (Langeani et al. 2007).

The climate in our study region is subtropical (Caviglione et al. 2000) with the temperature ranging from 22°C during the warmer months to 18°C during the colder months. This region enjoys a regular amount of evenly distributed rainfall, but during our sampling period the rain volume was one of the lowest recorded in the history of the last 50 years (Iapar 2015). The dry season (March-August 2006) was defined based on the average monthly precipitation, which was 49 mm. The rainy season (September 2006 to February 2007) had an average monthly precipitation of 207 mm. These conditions were used in the analysis of the seasonal variation in the diet of the fish assemblage.

Monthly samples were collected between March 2006 and February 2007, using gillnets placed parallel to the riverbank for 24 hours and a seine net operated for a period of 10 minutes. After capture, all fish were fixed in 4% formaldehyde and after five days they were transferred to 70% alcohol. In the laboratory, individuals were identified, labelled, weighed (total weight, kg), measured (standard length, mm) and dissected for the removal of the gut contents. Voucher specimens of Hypostomus ancistroides Ihering, 1911, H. strigaticeps Regan, 1908, H. commersoni Valenciennes, 1836, H. hermanni (Ihering, 1905), and Hypostomus sp. were deposited in the fish collection of the Museu de História Natural Capão da Imbuia (MHNCI 12355-MHNCI 12359).

Food contents were identified to the lowest feasible taxonomical level and quantified using a compound light microscope following a specific methodology based on Aranha (1993). After the extraction of the contents of the anterior third of the digestive tract, the material was homogenized and three slides (subsamples) were prepared. The slides were placed on the stage of the micros cope and moved to a random location. This random location was defined using the numbering system present on the mechanical stage using one dimension as the abscissa and the other as the ordinate. The field determined by the ordinate and the abscissa (1 × 1 mm) was analysed at 200 and 400 times magnification. A minimum of seven and a maximum of 10 locations per slide were analysed, totalling an average of 25 locations per stomach content. Items were quantified according to their percentage contributions. The frequency of occurrence and percentage contribution methods were used in the diet analysis (Hynes 1950).

Differences in diet composition were investigated through permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA), and similarity percentage analysis (SIMPER) methods performed by the Primer v6 software (Clarke & Gorley 2006), using stomachs as samples and seasons (Dry or Rainy) and species as fixed factors. A similarity matrix was constructed using the Bray-Curtis index, using the transformed (logX+1) values of the percentage contribution of food items. This matrix was subjected to a two-way PERMANOVA analysis (Anderson et al. 2008) in order to examine the effects of the factors (seasons and species) on the diet composition. Significant factors were further analyzed using a PERMANOVA pairwise comparison. All tests utilized Bray-Curtis dissimilarity as the metric and were permutated 9,999 times under a reduced model.

Percentage Contribution Analysis (SIMPER) was carried out (Clarke & Gorley 2006) in order to estimate the contribution of each variable (food item) to the observed similarity or dissimi larity between samples. It was, therefore, useful in assessing the importance of the different food items to the overall diet, and in identifying the variables that are more important in creating the observed pattern of similarity.

Diet overlaps in each season between all pairs of Hypostomus species were calculated through the Pianka index (Pianka 1973) in the software EcoSim, version 7.72 (Gotelli & Entsminger 2000). This measure of overlap is symmetrical and assumes values ranging from 0 (no prey in common between two species) to 1 (species share the same relative amount of food items), and the overlap is considered high when values exceed 0.60 (sensu Wallace 1981). Niche overlaps among Hypostomus species in each season were statistically tested against null models (RA3 algorithm, 1,000 iterations) using the EcoSimR package (Gotelli et al. 2015) with R 3.3.1 statistics software (R Development Core Team 2016), in order to evaluate whether the pattern of niche overlap diverged significantly from a random distribution (absen ce of overlap).

RESULTS

A total of 352 individuals of Hypostomus ancistroides , H. strigaticeps , H. commersoni , H. hermanni , and Hypostomus sp. were captured, with a total weight of 19.39 kg. In both seasons there was an overlap in the sizes (SL) of all Hypostomus species. The two most common species (H. commersoni and Hypostomus sp.) comprised 75.8% of all captures and 66.8% of total biomass. No taxon was exclusive to the samples collected in the dry or rainy seasons, and H. commersoni and Hypostomus sp. were the most abundant in both periods (Table 1).

Table 1 Number of individuals (N), standard length (SL) variation (range, mean and SD = standard deviation, mm), and total biomass (WG, kg) registered for the loricariids captured from the Corumbataí River in the dry and rainy seasons. 

Species Rainy Dry
N SL range SL mean ± SD WG N SL range SL mean ± SD WG
H. ancistroides 10 119-200 18.21 ± 3.07 1.22 20 132-180 17.33 ± 3.68 1.83
H. commersoni 69 101-170 13.81 ± 2.43 3.21 86 98-259 13.91 ± 2.79 3.61
H. hermanni 13 98-152 14.73 ± 2.79 0.86 9 105-175 13.48 ± 2.71 0.32
Hypostomus sp. 57 97-151 14.01 ± 2.25 3.12 69 78-145 13.28 ± 2.51 3.03
H. stigatriceps 6 138-214 20.19 ± 4.92 1.03 13 120-177 17.21 ± 2.56 1.16

The results on diet composition of gut contents included 21 different food items (Table 2). In general, the diet of all Hypostomus species was slightly more diverse during the rainy than the dry season. In the dry season, immature aquatic stages of Coleoptera, Odonata nymphs, rotifers and gastropods were absent from the diet of all species.

Table 2 Relative frequency (FR%) and frequency of occurrence (FO%) of food items consumed by: (ANC) Hypostomus ancistroides , (COM) H. commersoni , (HER) H. hermanni , (HSP) Hypostomus sp. and (STR) H. strigaticeps

Season Rainy Dry
Species ANC COM HER HSP STR ANC COM HER HSP STR
Food items FR% FO% FR% FO% FR% FO% FR% FO% FR% FO% FR% FO% FR% FO% FR% FO% FR% FO% FR% FO%
Detritus 48.8 100.0 46.4 100.0 52.9 100.0 40.4 100.0 46.1 100.0 49.0 100.0 51.1 100.0 43.1 100.0 50.1 100.0 51.2 100.0
Cyanophyceae 0.4 68.2 0.5 63.5 0.4 72.7 0.8 78.1 0.4 66.7 0.4 50.0 0.3 52.1 0.3 55.1 0.7 73.3 0.4 40.0
Chlorophyceae 0.8 50.0 1.7 63.5 1.3 72.7 2.5 69.8 3.2 66.7 0.7 37.5 1.5 62.5 1.2 65.1 1.2 46.7 2.1 80.0
Filamentous algae 0.5 36.4 3.2 55.2 0.5 59.1 5.5 91.7 5.1 77.8 1.6 37.5 2.1 66.7 0.5 58.2 2.4 76.7 4.1 70.0
Algae fragments 21.8 100.0 27.2 99.1 27.7 100.0 26.1 6.3 23.1 100.0 12.1 87.5 26.1 100.0 32.1 100.0 18.3 100.0 20.1 100.0
Diatoms 25.4 100.0 19.6 100.0 15.9 95.5 23.2 100.0 21.5 100.0 34.6 100.0 18.2 100.0 22.1 100.0 25.9 100.0 21.1 100.0
Zygnematophyceae 0.7 22.7 <0.1 3.7 - - <0.1 8.3 - - - - - - - - <0.1 6.7 - -
Coleoptera larvae - - - - 0.3 18.2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Diptera larvae/pupae 0.2 13.6 <0.1 4.7 0.2 18.2 - - - - - - <0.1 4.2 0.1 21.2 - - 0.3 20.0
Hemiptera larvae - - - - - - - - - - - - 0.2 2.1 - - - - - -
Trichoptera larvae <0.1 22.7 <0.1 8.4 <0.1 18.2 - - - - <0.1 12.5 <0.1 10.4 - - - - <0.1 10.0
Odonata nymphs - - <0.1 2.8 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Insects remains 0.5 35.5 0.2 19.6 0.3 31.8 <0.1 11.5 0.4 33.3 0.3 37.4 <0.1 8.3 0.3 32.1 <0.1 10.0 0.2 10.0
Free-living nematodes 0.4 36.4 0.3 56.1 0.2 45.4 0.2 23.9 <0.1 66.7 0.1 25.0 0.2 22.9 0.2 18.2 0.5 40.0 0.2 50.0
Oligochaetes fragments - - - - - - - - - - - - <0.1 2.1 - - - - - -
Paramecium spp. - - - - - - <0.1 4.2 - - - - <0.1 2.1 - - <0.1 3.3 - -
Euglena spp. <0.1 36.4 0.2 22.4 <0.1 40.9 0.3 61.5 <0.1 44.4 <0.1 37.5 0.2 31.2 <0.1 33.2 0.3 60.0 <0.1 40.0
Rotifers - - <0.1 5.6 - - <0.1 3.1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Gastropods remains - - - - - - <0.1 2.1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Testate amoebae 0.3 22.7 0.1 17.8 - - 0.2 16.7 - - <0.1 12.5 <0.1 12.5 - - <0.1 16.7 0.2 30.0
Fish scales - - - - - - <0.1 3.1 - - - - <0.1 2.1 - - - - - -

The PERMANOVA analysis revealed differences in resource use by species (Pseudo-F = 6.61, p < 0.001) and season (Pseudo-F = 8.04, p < 0.001) (Table 3). Pairwise tests found differences between H. ancistroides and H. commersoni , Hypostomus sp., H. stigatriceps ; H. commersoni and Hypostomus sp.; H. hermanni and Hypostomus sp.; Hypostomus sp. and H. stigatriceps . The diet of H. ancistroides , Hypostomus sp., and H. stigatriceps were also found to vary significantly between seasons (Table 4).

Table 3 Results of the two-way crossed PERMANOVA analysis on the use of food resources, considering the factors season and species. (df) Degree of freedom, (SS) Sum of squares, (MS) Mean sum of squares, (Pseudo-F) Statistic, P (perm) Probability. 

Factor df SS MS Pseudo-F P (perm) Permutations performed
Season 1 3243.3000 3243.30 8.04 <0.001* 9942
Species 4 10657.0000 2664.20 6.61 <0.001* 9917
Season x Species 4 5712.0000 1428.00 3.54 <0.001* 9922
Res 342 1.38E5 403.49
Total 351 1.56E5

* Indicates the significant results.

Table 4 Pair-wise tests based on PERMANOVA analysis, considering the significant factors in the use of food resources. P (perm) Proba bility. 

Grouping factors t P (perm) Permutations performed
Species vs. Species
H. ancistroides vs. H. commersoni 2.238 0.0007* 9943
H. ancistroides vs. H. hermanni 1.489 0.0521 9949
H. ancistroides vs. Hypostomus sp. 4.113 0.0001* 9960
H. ancistroides vs. H. stigatriceps 2.071 0.0007* 9954
H. commersoni vs. H. hermanni 1.383 0.1003 9946
H. commersoni vs. Hypostomus sp. 3.672 0.0001* 9945
H. commersoni vs. H. stigatriceps 0.911 0.5305 9954
H. hermanni vs. Hypostomus sp. 3.149 0.0001* 9942
H. hermanni vs. H. stigatriceps 1.319 0.1445 9959
Hypostomus sp. vs. H. stigatriceps 1.952 0.0031* 9955
Species vs. Seasons
H. ancistroides (Rainy vs. Dry) 1.799 0.0004* 9959
H. commersoni (Rainy vs. Dry) 0.758 0.7145 9948
H. hermanni (Rainy vs. Dry) 1.064 0.3623 9897
Hypostomus sp. (Rainy vs. Dry) 1.889 0.0049* 9954
H. stigatriceps (Rainy vs. Dry) 1.384 0.0963* 8323

*Indicates the significant results.

SIMPER analysis showed that the similarities among the diets of Hypostomus species' result from the high percentage contribution of detritus, diatoms and algae fragments, and that the dissimilarity between the diets of H. ancistroides and H. commersoni , Hypostomus sp. and H. stigatriceps , and between the diets of Hypostomus sp. and H. ancistroides , H. commersoni , H. hermanni and H. stigatriceps resulted from the variable percentage contributions of filamentous algae, Chlorophyceae, Cyanophyceae, Euglena species, free-living nematodes, insects remains, and testate amoebae. Those items also contributed to the overall dissimilarity between the dry and rainy seasons for H. ancistroides , Hypostomus sp. and H. stigatriceps (Table 5).

Table 5 Percentage contribution of food items to the average similarity percentages (AS) in the diets of Hypostomus species' in the dry and rainy seasons, obtained with SIMPER analysis. Items' contributions that cumulatively summed up to ~97% are shown. (DEB) Detritus, (DIA) Diatoms, (FRA) Algae fragments, (CIA) Cyanophyceae, (FIL) Filamentous algae, (CLF) Chlorophyceae, (EUG) Euglena spp., (FGI) Insect remains, (NEM) Free-living nematodes, (TCM) Testate amoebae, (ZYG) Zygnematophyceae. 

Species H. ancistroides H. commersoni H. hermanni Hypostomus sp. H. stigatriceps
Season Dry Rainy Dry Rainy Dry Rainy Dry Rainy Dry Rainy
AS (%) 72.2 72.4 75.9 73.7 76.7 75.5 75.7 79.6 75.9 79.4
DEB 31.4 34.1 29.3 29.4 29.5 31.3 25.9 23.8 27.1 30.3
DIA 30.1 26.9 26.5 26.2 26.4 21.8 25.3 21.8 25.7 23.7
FRA 22.8 31.8 28.1 27.1 27.3 29.7 24.7 22.5 24.5 28.4
CIA 5.54 0.57 2.33 3.67 5.66 5.21 5.64 5.23 1.22 5.36
FIL 3.11 <0.01 5.03 5.44 1.53 4.01 9.03 14.2 9.56 4.69
CLF 3.52 0.39 6.33 4.90 6.14 5.82 4.12 6.77 7.95 7.09
EUG 0.22 2.37 0.75 1.20 0.71 0.16 2.27 2.84 0.79 <0.01
FGI 0.56 2.43 0.22 0.21 <0.01 0.78 0.16 0.01 0.21 <0.01
NEM 0.44 0.42 0.63 0.61 0.83 1.16 0.98 0.34 <0.01 <0.01
TCM 0.26 - 0.17 0.18 - - 0.34 0.06 0.40 -
ZYG - 0.28 - 0.01 - - 0.06 - - -

The Ecosim analyses of dietary overlap based on Pianka's index found high values (> 90%) for all pairs of species, indicating substantial similarity in the diets of Hypostomus species in both seasons (Table 6). Comparisons with null (RA3) models indicated that the observed overlap between species in dry (0.96) and rainy (0.99) seasons was greater than expected by chance (0.16, p = 0.001).

Table 6 Interspecific diet overlap (Pianka's index) among Hypostomus species in each season. 

Species Pianka's index
Dry Rainy
H. ancistroides vs. H. commersoni 0.94 0.99
H. ancistroides vs. H. hermanni 0.92 0.98
H. ancistroides vs. Hypostomus sp. 0.98 0.98
H. ancistroides vs. H. stigatriceps 0.96 0.99
H. commersoni vs. H. hermanni 0.98 0.99
H. commersoni vs. Hypostomus sp. 0.98 0.99
H. commersoni vs. H. stigatriceps 0.99 0.99
H. hermanni vs. Hypostomus sp. 0.96 0.97
H. hermanni vs. H. stigatriceps 0.97 0.98
Hypostomus sp. vs. H. stigatriceps 0.99 0.99

DISCUSSION

All five species of Hypostomus were sampled along the main channel of the Corumbataí River, in the dry and rainy seasons. The relatively high species richness and abundance of representatives of this genus can be explained by the great amount of fast-flowing aquatic environments and rocky substrate, environments that favor the occurrence of armored catfish (Weber 2003), in addition to many illuminated stretches with submerged streamside vegetation, where loricariids display a surface-grazing foraging behaviour (Montoya-Burgos et al. 2003, Lujan et al. 2012).

Food items ingested by Hypostomus species in the Corumbataí River indicate that these suckermouth loricariids are bottom-dwelling detritivorous/periphytivorous catfishes. The large and diverse number of food items registered in the diet of Hypostomus species, in our data, with a predominance of detritus and periphyton, was expected (e.g., Casatti 2002, Casatti et al. 2009, Cardone et al. 2006, Delariva & Agostinho 2001, Gomiero & Braga 2008, Meschiatti & Arcifa 2009). Detritus is a protein-rich organic material, and there is a large number of micro and macro organisms associated with the degradation processes of this material (Fausch et al. 2002, Flecker et al. 2002, McIntyre et al. 2007). Periphyton is a complex community of algae, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, micro crustaceans, organic and inorganic material adhered to, or associated with, the substrate (Jacobsen 2008).

The foraging patterns showed evidence of resource sharing in the dry and rainy periods, as observed values of niche overlap were higher than those expected by chance. The high consumption of detritus and also autochthonous items such as algae and aquatic immature insects seems to explain the feeding overlap, and probably reflect their high availability in the aquatic environment, allowing the coexistence of these catfishes. The high degree of niche overlap was already registered among detritivorous Hypostomus (e.g., Oliveira & Isaac 2013, Villares-Junior et al. 2016), and this feeding strategy requires complex anatomical-physiological adaptations in order to exploit detritus (Bowen 1983). The suckermouth-scraping feeding mechanism (Schaefer & Lauder 1986) and the long and coiled digestive tract (Delariva & Agostinho 2001) are remarkable functional traits that are essential for the success of loricariids in exploiting detritus and associated items (Delariva & Agostinho 2001, Lujan et al. 2012).

Our analyses also indicate variation in the consumption of some resources among Hypostomus species and seasons, and the contribution of periphytic algae was primarily responsible for such dissimilarity. Differences in periphyton composition, for example, depend on several environmental characteristics, such as the type of substrate (Cattaneo et al. 1997), level of disturbance (Biggs et al. 1998), hydrodynamics (Algarte et al. 2009), nutrient availability (Moulton et al. 2010), light (Hill 1996), and biological control by grazing (Rosemond et al. 1993), affecting the availability of this resource and consequently feeding overlap. In addition, factors such an increase in the sediment carried by rains increase the accumulation of particulate matter on periphyton, with a consequent reduction in photosynthetic biomass and in the diversity and density of organisms (e.g. algae, Vercellino & Bicudo 2006), with the opposite effect in the dry season (Felisberto & Rodrigues 2005, Jacobsen 2008, Martins & Fernandes 2011).

Variations in resource utilization among Hypostomus species can be also explained by differences in how the species use their foraging habitats. These differences, in part, result from the different attachment mechanisms they display. These attachment mechanisms ensure that the individuals can maintain their position [while feeding] and result in the differential occupation of lotic systems by the various species (Buck & Sazima 1995, Garavello & Garavello 2004, Pagotto et al. 2011). In addition, the differences in the morphology and functional versatility (Schaefer & Lauder 1986, Lujan & Armbruster 2012) of the ventrally oriented feeding apparatus, which bear teeth that touch the substrate from which algae and other food items are scraped, are also relevant to resource partitioning, since these morphological differences result in different ways of obtaining food (Delariva & Agostinho 2001).

In summary, our data show that trophic resources available in the Corumbataí River are shared among five morphologically similar Hypostomus species, all specialized in surface-grazing foraging behaviour. The food resource partitioning between loricariid species may be interpreted as an adaptive response that results in a greater exploitation of the available resources, and differences in the diet between coexisting similar species are probably associated with morphological peculiarities of the feeding apparatus of each species.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We thank Claudio Zawadzki (State University of Maringá) for helping with the identification of Hypostomus species; GPIc (Grupo de Pesquisas em Ictiofauna, MHNCI) and the Phycology Lab of the Federal University of Paraná for their help with the analyses and the identification of food items; Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) MSc fellowship to MOV. JRSV is thankful to the Brazilian Council of Research (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico - CNPq) for the continuous funding through a Research Productivity Grant. Samples were collected in accordance with Brazilian environmental protection legislation (Permission MMA/IBAMA/SISBIO #10320-1) in compliance with the National Council of Animal Experimentation (CONCEA) norms.

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Editorial responsibility: Cassiano Monteiro Neto

Received: April 06, 2016; Revised: September 21, 2016; Accepted: October 02, 2016

*Corresponding author. E-mail: vabilhoa@uol.com.br

Author Contributions:

VA, MOV and JRSV conceived and designed the study; VA, MOV, FAF and JRSV analyzed the data and wrote the paper.

Competing Interests:

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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