The diverse prey spectrum of the Tanganyikan scale-eater Perissodus microlepis (Boulenger, 1898)

Kovac, Robin; Boileau, Nicolas; Muschick, Moritz; Salzburger, Walter (2019). The diverse prey spectrum of the Tanganyikan scale-eater Perissodus microlepis (Boulenger, 1898). Hydrobiologia, 832(1), pp. 85-92. Springer Netherlands 10.1007/s10750-018-3714-9

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Feeding upon the scales of other fish—lepidophagy—is a highly specialized foraging strategy in fish. Scale-eating is rare in teleosts, yet has evolved several times in East African cichlids, the most famous case being the Perissodini clade in Lake Tanganyika. Here, we examined the prey spectrum of the scaleeater Perissodus microlepis (Boulenger, 1898) via morphological assessment and targeted sequencing (barcoding) of ingested scales. We found that the size of the ingested scales, but not their number, correlates with the body size of scale-eaters. Sequencing of a segment of the mitochondrial ND2 gene in more than 300 scales revealed that P. microlepis feed upon a broad spectrum of prey species. In total, we detected 39 different prey species, reflecting the cichlid community in the rocky littoral zone of Lake Tanganyika. The most common prey were the algae-eaters Petrochromis polyodon, Pe. ephippium, Eretmodus cyanostictus, Tropheus moorii, and Simochromis diagramma, which make up more than half of the diet. The diversity of scales found within scale-eaters and the overall broad prey spectrum suggest that P. microlepis is an opportunistic feeder. Mouth-handedness and body color hue of the scale-eaters do not seem to have an influence on prey choice.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Aquatic Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Muschick, Moritz

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology

ISSN:

0018-8158

Publisher:

Springer Netherlands

Language:

English

Submitter:

Marcel Häsler

Date Deposited:

22 Feb 2019 09:24

Last Modified:

22 Feb 2019 09:24

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s10750-018-3714-9

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.123421

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/123421

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