Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Feeding ecology and prey preferences of a piscivorous fish in the Lagoa do Peixe National Park, a Biosphere Reserve in Southern Brazil

  • Fabiano Corrêa
  • Marlucy Coelho Claudino
  • Rodrigo Ferreira Bastos
  • Sônia Huckembeck
  • Alexandre Miranda Garcia


We investigated the diet, feeding strategy, size-related dietary shifts and prey preferences of South American Hoplias aff. malabaricus in an internationally recognized but poorly investigated Biosphere Reserve in southern Brazil. Fish were caught between April 2008 and March 2009 using a variety of fishing gear. The analysis of 113 individuals revealed a diet essentially composed of fish (16 species), particularly characid species (9). The diet became more diverse and contained larger fish prey with increasing predator size. Feeding strategy analysis revealed a clear specialization towards the consumption of fish. However, individuals did not prey upon particular prey species, instead opportunistically consuming many different fish species, which could be a strategy to avoid intraspecific competition. Characid species were the most important prey, followed by poecillids. A multi-gear sampling of the ichthyofauna revealed that these prey species were the most abundant (Characidae: 61.3%, Poeciliidae 18.8%) of the 14 fish families occurring at the study site, suggesting that the predator exploits the most abundant fish resources available rather than the rarer fish prey. These findings suggest that potential top-down controls exerted by H. aff. malabaricus in this system follow specific food web pathways that seem to be mediated by the abundance of prey resources.


Diet Feeding strategy Size-related dietary shift Trahira Food niche Characins 



We thank colleagues of the Ichthyology Laboratory of the Oceanographic Institute of the Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG) for their assistance in the field, especially Vinicius Condini; the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, CNPq (Grant No. 482920/2007-6) and International Foundation of Science, IFS (Grant No. A/4419-1) for providing financial support and the ICMBIO for providing permit (14523-2 and 14523-4) for sample collections.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabiano Corrêa
    • 1
  • Marlucy Coelho Claudino
    • 1
  • Rodrigo Ferreira Bastos
    • 1
  • Sônia Huckembeck
    • 1
  • Alexandre Miranda Garcia
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Oceanografia, Laboratório de IctiologiaUniversidade Federal de Rio GrandeRio GrandeBrazil

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