Marine Biology

, Volume 153, Issue 6, pp 1023–1035 | Cite as

Food resource use in a tropical eastern Pacific tidepool fish assemblage

  • Gustavo Adolfo Castellanos-Galindo
  • Alan GiraldoEmail author
Research Article


An understanding of the trophic organization patterns of tropical littoral fish assemblages can contribute to the knowledge of key ecosystem processes while simultaneously assisting to validate large-scale biogeographic patterns (i.e. latitudinal patterns in fish herbivory). In the present study, the diets of eight fish species inhabiting the tide pools of a rocky shore on the western coast of Colombia (tropical eastern Pacific) are documented. A total of 17 prey items were identified, with a major representation (average percent by weight) of crabs and macroalgae items in the guts of all species. Small crustacean prey items (crabs, shrimps, copepods and amphipods) dominated the diets of most species, but consumption of macroalgae and diatoms by a significant number of species was also observed. We identified four significant trophic guilds within the assemblage using multivariate techniques (cluster analysis and nMDS): an omnivorous guild, consisting of Malacoctenus zonifer and the smallest size class of Bathygobius ramosus; a small-prey carnivorous guild, consisting of the intermediate size classes of B. ramosus and the smallest size class of Gobiesox adustus; a large-prey carnivorous guild, consisting of both largest size classes of B. ramosus and G. adustus; and an herbivorous guild consisting of Abudefduf concolor, A. troschelii and Chaenomugil proboscideus. The diet of two species slightly overlapped those of the rest of the assemblage and did not conform to any guild (Echidna nocturna and Halichoeres aestuaricola). It is hypothesised that guild formation may be a consequence of aggregation of species at abundant resources in the intertidal zone rather than a direct consequence of inter-specific competition. Ontogenetic changes in diets were observed in two resident species of the assemblage (B. ramosus and G. adustus). The latitudinal trend for herbivory inside this tropical assemblage is discussed in comparison with similar temperate studies in the eastern Pacific.


Macroalgae Prey Item Fish Assemblage Niche Breadth Rocky Shore 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Support for this work was provided by L. Castellanos and COLCIENCIAS (Jóvenes Investigadores program) scholarship to G.A.C. and by the Department of Biology at the Universidad del Valle. The Colombian National Navy (DIMAR) granted access to Isla Palma for fieldwork. We are grateful to K. Fierro, J. Naranjo and E. Escarria for their assistance during sampling activities. Suggestions of U. Krumme and A. Dominici-Arosemena helped significantly to clarify various aspects of the article. E.A Rubio, J. Pulgar and three anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments on an early version of this manuscript. L. Galindo, J. Clayton, A. Roach, and P. Silverston-Sopkin made significant corrections of English usage.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gustavo Adolfo Castellanos-Galindo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Alan Giraldo
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Departamento de Biología, Sección de Biología Marina, Grupo de Investigación en Ecología de Arrecifes CoralinosUniversidad del ValleCaliColombia
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Zoología, Museo Departamental de Ciencias NaturalesINCIVACaliColombia
  3. 3.ISATEC, Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT)University of BremenBremenGermany
  4. 4.Departamento de Biología, Sección de Zoología, Grupo de Investigación en Ecología AnimalUniversidad del ValleCaliColombia

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