The goal of this study was to investigate the alterations of diet of a piscivorous fish (Acestrorhynchus pantaneiro) following changes in abundance of a forage fish (Moenkhausia dichroura) during the trophic upsurge stage in a reservoir. Fish samplings were taken monthly in the Manso Reservoir (State of Mato Grosso, Brazil) from March 2000 to February 2001 (period I) and from March 2003 to February 2004 (period II). The abundance of Moenkhausia dichroura in the reservoir was significantly different in both periods, representing 9.6% of the individuals in period I and 66.4% in period II. Stomach contents analyses showed that the number of prey species consumed by A. pantaneiro decreased from 41 prey in period I to 14 in period II. In the last period M. dichroura was the most important prey, comprising 95% of the diet, in contrast with the period I when this species represented only 15% of the diet. The predator and prey size relationship was positive in both periods, however was significantly different, because small and large predators consumed mainly small prey (M. dichroura) in period II. Thus, the results showed that A. pantaneiro altered its diet composition, trophic niche breadth and prey sizes to feed on more abundant and accessible prey. These alterations probably caused a decrease in energy costs related to prey searching, maximizing the energy gain of the predator.
Acestrorhynchus pantaneiro; Moenkhausia dichroura; prey-predator relationship; reservoir