Moreno-Sánchez X.G., Perez-Rojo P., Irigoyen-Arredondo M.S., Marin- Enríquez E., Abitia-Cárdenas L.A., Escobar-Sanchez O. 2019. Feeding habits of the leopard grouper, Mycteroperca rosacea (Actinopterygii: Perciformes: Epinephelidae), in the central Gulf of California, BCS, Mexico. Acta Ichthyol. Piscat. 49 (1): 9–22.
The leopard grouper, Mycteroperca rosacea (Streets, 1877), is endemic to north-western Mexico and has high commercial value. Although facts of its basic biology are known, information on its trophic ecology, in particular, is scarce. The objective of the presently reported study was to characterize the feeding habits of M. rosacea through the analysis of stomach contents, and to determine possible variations linked to sex (male or female), size (small, medium, or large), or season (spring, summer, autumn, or winter), in order to understand the trophic role that this species plays in the ecosystem where it is found.
Materials and methods.
Fish were captured monthly, from March 2014 to May 2015 by spearfishing in Santa Rosalía, BCS, Mexico. Percentages by the number, by weight, and frequency of appearance of each food category, the index of relative importance (%IRI), and prey-specific index of relative importance (%PSIRI) were used to determine the importance of each prey item in the leopard grouper diet. Diet breadth was calculated using Levin’s index. Possible differences in the diet by sex, size, or season were identified through a multivariate PERMANOVA analysis.
A total of 341 leopard grouper specimens were collected, 309 of which had stomachs containing food. A total of 28 prey species were identified. According to the %IRI, the contribution to the diet of the coastal pelagic prey Nyctiphanes simplex and Sardinops sagax (Jenyns, 1842) was 87%, whereas according to the %PSIRI the contribution to the diet of those two prey species was 57%, in addition to several demersal prey species. A PERMANOVA analysis indicated that there were significant differences in the diet of leopard grouper by sex, size, and season, but the interactions sex–size, sex–season, size–season, and sex–size–season, were not significant.
Mycteroperca rosacea was identified as a carnivorous predator with narrow trophic width, with significant differences in diet according to the sex, size, season, and size–sex interactions, which could be the result of different energetic requirements, hunting abilities, and food availability. The %PSIRI turned out to be the most adequate index to determine the feeding habits of fish, as it provides a better mean value to determine the most important prey.
stomach contents, diet breadth, Gulf of California, euphausiids, sardines