The biology of filter feeding teleosts in St Lucia, was studied for two years from 1976 to 1978. The three common species, Gilchristella aestuarius, Hilsa kelee and Thryssa vitrirostris were studied with the composition and cyclical nature of the zooplankton which formed their food. Stolephorus commersonii and Hepsetia breviceps which were rare were only briefly examined. The zooplankton was dominated by the calanoid Pseudodiaptomus stuhlmanni which formed > 70 % of the calorific value of the zooplankton for 70 % of the study period. The mysid Mesopodopsis africana was second in importance in terms of calorific contribution while the amphipod Grandidierella lignorum was relatively abundant. Larval forms, particularly post‐veligers of Assiminea bifasciata were also important. There was a close correlation between the zooplankton cycles, both diel and annual, and the feeding, reproduction and recruitment of the three common filter feeding teleosts. G. aestuarius spent its whole life‐cycle in the system and spawned in early summer when the resulting juveniles could feed on the summer zooplankton peaks. They grew at 0.5 cm month−1 and attained maximum size in one year. They were non‐selective taking mainly P. stuhlmanni and post‐veligers. H. kelee spawned in the sea and juveniles were common in St Lucia during 1978 when they fed non‐selectively, chiefly on P. stuhlmanning the summer before disappearing over the winter. The resulting offspring went through a sequence of dietary changes which were closely related to zooplankton cycles. The importance of P. stuhlmanni in the pelagic food web of St Lucia is illustrated. The species supports not only the filter feeding teleosts but indirectly the predatory fish Argyrosomus hololepidotus and Elops machnata which feed on G. aestuarius and T. vitrirostris.
Journal of Fish Biology – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 1979
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