Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 102, Issue 8, pp 1119–1136 | Cite as

Feeding habits and ecological role of the freshwater stingray Potamotrygon magdalenae (Duméril 1865) (Myliobatiformes: Potamotrygonidae), combining gut-content and stable isotope analysis

  • Viviana Márquez-VelásquezEmail author
  • Ricardo S. Rosa
  • Esteban Galindo
  • Andrés F. Navia


Understanding the ecological role of a species in an ecosystem and the dynamics of the communities depends largely on knowledge of the trophic relationships. We evaluated the feeding habits and the trophic ecology of the endemic Colombian stingray Potamotrygon magdalenae, integrating stomach content and isotopic analyses (13C and 15N). The samples were collected in the middle Magdalena River basin, Colombia, during artisanal fishing operations in the dry and rainy seasons. The stomach content analysis indicated that P. magdalenae fed on a high number of occasional items, such as seeds, Planariidae, Teleostei and Nematoda, with Diptera being the dominant food component at the population level. There were no significant differences in diet between males and females. In contrast, isotopic analysis showed that Coleoptera was the most important food source assimilated by the species, followed by Ephemeroptera; Chironomidae and Trichoptera made the lowest contributions. No significant differences in δ13C and δ15N were observed between the sexes or hydrological seasons. Estimates of the isotopic niche indicated that P. magdalenae has a narrower trophic niche than the teleost fishes present in the study area. The trophic level was identified as intermediate, suggesting that Potamotrygon magdalenae plays a role as a mesopredator in the food web in the study area.


Batoidea Diet Feeding sources Food webs δ13C and δ15



VMV thanks the Postgraduate Student Agreement Program (PEC-PG) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, Brazil (CNPq) (Proc. 190513/2014-4), for the master scholarship. Thanks are also due to the fishermen of La Pesca, Antioquia, Colombia, for their valuable contributions to the collection of samples and to colleagues of the SQUALUS Foundation, especially J. López, for their assistance conducting laboratory work and discussions regarding the statistical analysis of the isotope data. This study was supported financially by the Rufford Foundation (RSG-18238-1).

Author contributions

AFN and VMV conceived and designed the study. VMV collected data, compiled data from the literature and performed the laboratory work. AFN contributed materials, reagents, and analytical tools. VMV, EG and AFN analyzed the data. VMV, RSR, EG and AFN contributed to the interpretation of the results. VMV wrote the paper and led the revisions, and ANF and RSR critically reviewed and corrected the different versions of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

All animals were captured by fishermen as bycatch from a local fishing boat.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

10641_2019_897_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 19.4 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Biológicas (Zoologia)João PessoaBrazil
  2. 2.Fundación Colombiana para la Investigación y Conservación de Tiburones y Rayas, SQUALUSCaliColombia
  3. 3.Departamento de Sistemática e Ecologia, Centro de Ciências Exatas e da NaturezaUniversidade Federal da ParaíbaJoão PessoaBrazil

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