, Volume 532, Issue 1–3, pp 23–38 | Cite as

Feeding habits of the juvenile striped weakfish, Cynoscion guatucupa Cuvier 1830, in Bahía Blanca estuary (Argentina): seasonal and ontogenetic changes

  • Paula Sardiña
  • Andrea C. Lopez cazorla


The aim of this study was to analyze the feeding habits of the juvenile striped weakfish, Cynoscion guatucupa Cuvier, from Bahía Blanca estuary, Argentina. C. guatucupa is one of the most important regional fishing resources although in the last 10 years landings have greatly decreased. The year class strength of fish as well as stock size and yield are determined during the early life stages. Knowledge about the diet of young C. guatucupa may therefore contribute to our better understanding of the influence that the changes occurring in the biota of the estuary exert on the abundance fluctuations of this species. To this end, we investigated the ontogenetic and seasonal dietary changes of C. guatucupa between 1.00 and 12.99 cm total length (age 0+), and we related them to changes in habitat use and prey selection. Two dietary shifts were found during ontogeny. The first shift, at approximately 4 cm total length, involved a change from demersal-pelagic prey (mysid shrimps) to demersal-benthic prey (Peisos petrunkevitchi Burkenroad). The second shift, at approximately 8 cm total length, involved a progressive increase in ichthyophagy (mainly an increase consumption of the Argentine anchovy Engraulis anchoita Hubbs & Marini). Seasonal dietary changes were also found. They evidenced the changes in the availability of organisms. In autumn, the chaetognath Sagitta friderici Ritter-Zahoni, P. petrunkevitchi, and E. anchoita were the dominant prey items; in winter, the copepod Labidocera fluviatilis Dahl along with S. friderici, mysids, and P. petrunkevitchi constituted the majority of the diet; and, in summer, mysids were the most important prey item consumed. Selectivity data showed that whereas some prey items, such as the copepods Acartia tonsa Dana and Paracalanus parvus (Claus) and S. friderici, were consistently negatively selected by all size classes throughout the year, other prey items, such as fish larvae, mysids, and P. petrunkevitchi,were selected in one season and avoided in another. Additional dietary seasonal differences observed in our research indicate that the limited food supply and the low water temperatures are limiting factors for winter juveniles in BahÕa Blanca estuary. These factors may also directly influence the more-than-10 cm total length seaward migration of large numbers of C. guatucupa that is registered at the end of every autumn.


C. guatucupa juveniles diet ontogeny prey selection zooplankton 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baltz, D. M., Fleeger, J. W., Rakocinski, C. F., McCall, J. N. 1998Food, density and microhabitat: factors affecting growth and recruitment potential of juvenile saltmarsh fishesEnvironmental Biology of Fishes5389103Google Scholar
  2. Boubée, J. A. T., Ward, F. J. 1997Mouth gape, food size, and diet of the common smelt Retropinna retropinna (Richardson) in the Waikato River system, North Island, New ZealandNew Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research31147154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bray, J. R., Curtis, J. T. 1957An ordination of the upland forest communities of Southern WisconsinEcological Monographs27325349Google Scholar
  4. Caragitsou, E., Papaconstantinou, C. 1988Feeding habits of red pandora (Pagellus erythrinus) off the western coast of GreeceJournal of Applied Ichthyology41422Google Scholar
  5. Chesson, J. 1978Measuring preference in selective predationEcology59211215Google Scholar
  6. Chesson, J. 1983The estimation and analysis of preference and its relationship to foraging modelsEcology6412971304Google Scholar
  7. Ciechomski, J. D. 1981Food utilization by juveniles of some sciaenid fish from coastal waters off ArgentinaContribución No. 363, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo PesqueroMar del Plata, ArgentinaGoogle Scholar
  8. Ciechomski, J. D., Ehrlich, M. 1977Alimentación de juveniles de pescadilla, Cynoscion striatus (Cuvier, 1829) Jordan and Evermann, 1889 en el mar y en condiciones experimentalesPisces, Siaenidae, Physis37112Google Scholar
  9. Clarke, K. R., Warwick, R. M. 1994Change in Marine Communities: an Approach to Statistical Analysis and InterpretationNatural Environment Research CouncilUKGoogle Scholar
  10. Cordo, H. D. 1986Estudios bilógicos sobre peces costeros con datos de campañas de investigación realizadas en 1981. III. La pescadilla de red (Cynoscion striatus)Publicacíon de la Comisión Tócnica Mixta del Frente Marítimo11527Google Scholar
  11. Díaz de Astarloa, J. M., C. R. Carozza, R. A. Guerrero, A. Baldoni & M. B. Cousseau 1997. Algunas características biológicas de peces capturados en una campaña costera invernal en 1993, el área comprendida entre 34°y 42° S (Atlántico sudoccidental) y su relación con las condiciones ambientales. Informe Técnico No. 14, 35, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero, Mar del Plata, Argentina.Google Scholar
  12. Fernandez Araoz, N. C. 1991Individual biomass, based on body measures, of copepod species considered as main forage items for fishes of the Argentine shelfOceanologica Acta14575580Google Scholar
  13. Ferrer, L. 2001Estudio de diversos metales pesados en sedimentos del estuario de Bahía Blanca y sus efectos tóxicos sobre el cangrejo Chasmagnathus granulata.Tesis doctoral, Universidad Nacinal del SurUniversidad Nacinal del SurGoogle Scholar
  14. Field, J. G., Clarke, K. R., Warwick, R. M. 1982A practical strategy for analysing multispecies distribution patternsMarine Ecology Progress Series83852Google Scholar
  15. Freije, R. H., Asteasuain, R. O., A. S. De Schmidt & J. R. Zavatti 1981. Relación de la salinidad y temperatura del agua con las condiciones hidrometeorológicas en la porción interna del estuario de Bahía Blanca. Contribución Científica del Instituto Argentine de Oceanograffa (IADO) No. 57Google Scholar
  16. Gaughan, D. J., Potter, I. C. 1997Analysis of diet and feeding strategies within an assemblage of estuarine larval fish and an objective assessment of dietary niche overlapFishery Bulletin95722731Google Scholar
  17. Gillanders, B. M. 1995Feeding ecology of the temperate marine fish Achoero- dus viridis (Labridae): size, seasonal and site-specific differencesMarine and Freshwater Research4610091020Google Scholar
  18. Grecay, P. A., Targett, T. E. 1996Spatial patterns in condition and feeding of juvenlie weakfish in Delaware BayTransactions of the American Fisheries Society125803808Google Scholar
  19. Grossman, G. D. 1980Ecological aspects of ontogenetic shifts in prey size utilisations in the bay goby (Pisces: Gobidae)Oecologia47233238Google Scholar
  20. Hoffmeyer, M. S. 1983Zooplancton del área interna de Bahía Blanca (Buenos Aires-Argentina). I- Composición faunísticaHistoria Natural37394Google Scholar
  21. Hoffmeyer, M. S. 1994Seasonal succession of Copepoda in the Bahía Blanca estuaryHydrobiologia292303308Google Scholar
  22. Hoffmeyer, M. S. 2004Decadal change in zooplankton seasonal succession in the Bahía Blanca estuary, Argentina, following introduction of two zooplankton speciesJournal of Plankton Research26181189Google Scholar
  23. Hoffmeyer, M. S., Torres, E. R. 2001Morphometric variables and individual volume of Eurytemora americana and Acartia tonsa females (Copepoda, Calanoida) from the Bahía Blanca estuary, ArgentinaHydrobiologia4597382Google Scholar
  24. Jones, J. P. 1984The influence of habitat and behavioural interactions on the local distribution of the wrasse, Pseudolabrus celidotus Environmental Biology of Fishes104358Google Scholar
  25. Joseph, E. G. 1973Analysis of a nursery groundPacheco, A. L. eds. Proceedings of a Workshop on Egg, Larval and Juvenile Stages of Fish in Atlantic Coast EstuariesNMFS, Mid Atlantic Coast Fishery CenterHighland, N.J118121Google Scholar
  26. Kleanthidis, P. K., Sinis, A. I. 2001Feeding habits of the macedonian shad, Alosa macedonica (Vinciguerra, 1921) in Lake Volvi (Greece): seasonal and ontogenetic changesIsrael Journal of Zoology47213231Google Scholar
  27. Koen Alonso, M., Crespo, E. A., García, N. A., Pedraza, S. N., Mariotti, P. A., Beron Vero, B., Mora, N. J. 2001Food habits of Dipturus chilensis (Pisces: Rajidae) off Patagonia, ArgentinaJournal of Marine Science58288297Google Scholar
  28. Krebs, C. J. 1998Ecological MethodologyAddison-Wesley Educational Publishers, IncMenlo Park, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  29. Lechowicz, M. J. 1982The sampling characteristics of electivity indicesOecologia522230Google Scholar
  30. Lopez Cazorla, A. 1996The food of Cynoscion striatus (Cuvier) (Pisces: Siaenidae) in the Bahía Blanca area, ArgentinaFisheries Research28371379Google Scholar
  31. Lopez Cazorla, A., 1997. Análisis de la evolución de las capturas de pescadilla (Cynoscion striatus (Cuvier) (Pisces: Sciaenidae)) durante el período 1991–1995. In Resúsmenes del Congreso Latinoamericano de Ciencias del Mar (VII Colacmar). Sao Paulo, Brasil: 95–97.Google Scholar
  32. Lukoschek, V., McCormick, M. I. 2001Ontogeny of diet changes in a tropical benthic carnivorous fish, Parupeneus barberinus (Mullidae): relationship between foraging behaviour, habitat use, jaw size, and prey selectionMarine Biology13810991113Google Scholar
  33. Marshall, S., Elliot, M. 1997A comparison of univariate and multivariate numerical and graphical techniques for determining inter-and intraspecific feeding relationships in estuarine fishJournal of Fish Biology51526545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. May, R. C. 1974Larval mortality in marine fishes and the critical period conceptBlaxter, J. H. S. eds. The Early Life History of FishSpringer VerlagNew York319Google Scholar
  35. McCormick, L. M. 1998Ontogeny of diet shifts by a microcarnivorous fish, Cheilodactylus spectabilis: relationship between feeding mechanics, microhabitat selection and growthMarine Biology132920Google Scholar
  36. Menezes, N. A., Figueiredo, J. L. 1980Manual de peixes marinhos do Sudeste do Brasil. IV. Teleostei (3)Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao PauloSao Paulo, BrasilGoogle Scholar
  37. Milton, D. A., Blaber, S. J. M., Rawlinson, N. J. F. 1994Diet, prey selection and their energetic relationship to reproduction in the tropical herring Herklot-sichthys quadrimaculatus in kiribati, Central PacificMarine Ecology Progress Series103239250Google Scholar
  38. Nion, H., 1985. Evaluación y perspectivas del complejo pesquero uruguayo. 2. Análisis de la investigación biológica-pesquera en el Uruguay. Serie Investigacions No. 22, CIEDUR.Google Scholar
  39. Olivier, S., Bastida, R., Torti, M. R. 1968Resultados de las campañas oceanográficas Mar del Plata I–VBoletín del Institute de Biología Marina16185Google Scholar
  40. Peterson, C. C., McIntyre, P. 1998Ontogenetic diet shifts in Roeboides affinis with morphological comparisonsEnvironmental Biology of Fishes53105110Google Scholar
  41. Píccolo, C. M., Perillo, G. M. 1990Physical characteristics of the Bahfa Blanca estuary (Argentina)East Coastal Shelf Science31303317Google Scholar
  42. Ruarte, C., Lasta, C., Carroza, C. 2000Capitulo II: Recursos a recuperarBezzi, S.Akselman, R.Boschi, E. E. eds. Síntesis del estado de las pes-quenías marítimas Argentinas y de la Cuenca del Plata. Años 1997–1998, con la actualización de 1999Mar del PlataArgentina6574Contribución del Institute Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero No. 1129Google Scholar
  43. Salojarvi, K. 1987Why do vendace (Coregonus albula L.) populations fluctuate?Aqua Fennica171726Google Scholar
  44. Sheridan, P. F. 1979Trophic resource utilization by three species of sciaenid fishes in a Northwest Florida estuaryNortheast Gulf Science3115Google Scholar
  45. Stephens, D. W., Krebs, J. R. 1986Foraging TheoryPrinceton University PressNew YerseyGoogle Scholar
  46. Stergiou, K. I., Fourtouni, H. 1991Food habits, ontogenetic diet shift and selectivity in Zeus faber Linnaeus, 1758Journal of Fish Biology39589603Google Scholar
  47. Tyler, A. Y. 1971Monthly changes in stomach contents of demersal fishes in Passamaquoddy BayJournal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada2881114Google Scholar
  48. Vanderploeg, H. A., Scavia, D. 1979Calculation and use of selectivity coefficients of feeding: zooplankton grazingEcological Modelling7135149Google Scholar
  49. Vanderploeg, H. A., Scavia, D. 1979Two electivity indices for feeding with special reference to zooplankton grazingJournal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada36362365Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales ‘‘Bernardino Rivadavia’‘Capital FederalArgentina
  2. 2.Department de Biología, Bioquímica y FarmaciaUniversidad National del Sur. San Juan 670Bahía BlancaArgentina
  3. 3.Instituto Argentino de OceanografíBahía BlancaArgentina

Personalised recommendations