Piscivory by Hoplias aff. malabaricus (Bloch, 1794): a question of prey availability?

Piscivoria por Hoplias aff. malabaricus (Bloch, 1794): uma questão de disponibilidade de presas?

AIM: In order to understand the factors which influence the predatory activity of the Hoplias aff. malabaricus, the present study evaluated feeding habits of this species and its relation to prey availability, in addition to environmental variables. METHODS: Six samplings were conducted in the Taperoá II reservoir, semi-arid of Paraíba state, Brazil, between October 2005 and October 2006. Measures were taken: rainfall, the reservoir volume, transparency, dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia and phosphate. The activity, diet and feeding habits of H. aff. Malabaricus, from the method of frequency of occurrence of food items and point methods, conjugates in IAI (Alimentary Index). Spearman correlation analysis, a glm and CCA were performed between biotic and abiotic variables, and we used the CPUE as a measure of fish abundance. RESULTS: Eleven taxa of fish were recorded, four of which were predated by adult "trahira". Insects and other items were also common in the stomachs of juveniles. According to statistical analysis, it was observed that the highest consumption of cichlids was correlated with its increase in CPUE in the environment, while no relationship was observed for A. bimaculatus, C. bimaculatum and S. notonota abundances. The environmental factors as nutrients, transparency and water volumn were related to selection of species by trahira. CONCLUSIONS: Intrinsic characteristics of preys as swimming speed, food habit and the food preference of the predator possibly be the main factors to selection of species. Other mechanisms as heterogeneity of habitat and environmental factors can also influence the consumption of prey by trahira

feeding; predation; reservoir; semiarid; fish

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