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Variations in the feeding habits of Callinectes rathbunae in Las Palmas lagoon (southern Gulf of Mexico) on three temporal scales

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Las Palmas lagoon is a part of the hydrographic system of Pom-Atasta-Puerto Rico, NE of Laguna de Términos, southern Gulf of Mexico. Swimming crabs of the genus Callinectes abound in this area and play an important role in the complex trophic dynamics of the macrobenthos. We analysed the feeding habits of Callinectes rathbunae and its variations on three temporal scales. Sampling was carried out from August 1999 through July 2000, both on a monthly basis (9:00-13:00 h) at new moon, and for each season (every 6 h during 24 h) with a small shrimp trawl net. Samples of epiand infauna were simultaneously taken. The stomachs of all C. rathbunae collected were dissected and the dietary components identified to the lowest taxonomic level possible. Percentage frequency of occurrence (%F) of each taxon was calculated, together with the normalized Levins index (Ba) for each (a) season, (b) size class (20 mm intervals), and (c) day- and night-time period in each season. While the trophic niche breadth of this species does not vary significantly with season, crab size, or time of day, diet components differed among seasons and crab size classes. Results indicate that ontogenic differences in the feeding strategies of this species contribute most importantly to overall variations in diet. La laguna de Las Palmas forma parte del sistema hidrográfico Pom-Atasta-Puerto Rico, ubicado al NE de Laguna de Términos, en el sur del Golfo de México. Las jaibas del género Callinectes son abundantes en esta zona, y juegan un papel preponderante en la compleja dinámica trófica del macrobenthos. Se analizaron los hábitos alimenticios de Callinectes rathbunae, y sus variaciones en tres escalas temporales. Se realizaron muestreos mensuales de agosto 1999 a julio 2000 (9:00-13:00 h en luna nueva), y estacionales (cada 6 h durante 24 h), utilizando una red de prueba camaronera. Simultáneamente, se tomaron muestras de la epi y meiofauna. Los estómagos de todos los C. rathbunae capturados fueron disecados, y se identificaron los componentes del contenido estomacal hasta grupos taxonómicos mayores. Se calcularon los valores de porcentaje de frecuencia de ocurrencia (%F) de cada componente, así como los valores de del índice normalizado de Levins (Ba) por (a) épocas del año, (b) por intervalo de talla (20 mm), y (c) para el día y la noche en cada época del año. En tanto que la amplitud del nicho trófico no varió significativamente entre épocas del año, talla u hora del día, se registraron diferencias en los componentes de la dieta a lo largo del año y entre jaibas de diferente tamaño. Los resultados indican que las diferencias ontogénicas en las estrategias alimenticias de esta especie contribuyen de manera importante en la variación general de la dieta.

Affiliations: 1: Unidad Multidisciplinaria de Docencia e Investigación, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Calle 8 No. 253, 97130 Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico


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