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Braz J Biol. 2005 Feb;65(1):1-8.

Spatial and seasonal changes in the diet of Oligosarcus hepsetus (Characiformes, Characidae) in a Brazilian reservoir.

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  • 1Laboratório de Ecologia de Peixes, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, km 47, Antiga Rodovia Rio-SP, CEP 23851-970, Seropédica, RJ, Brazil.


We assessed spatial and seasonal changes in the diet of Oligosarcus hepsetus in order to describe the strategy developed by this species that allows their very high abundance in Lajes reservoir, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Fish samplings were carried out using gill nets, deployed during ca. 12 and 24 hours, between April 2001 and May 2002. A total of 289 individuals were examined, of which 97 showed gut contents. We used the index of relative importance (IRI) to compare probable dietary shifts, and the frequency of occurrence (% OC) to analyze possible ontogenetic influences on feeding. O. hepsetus showed carnivorous habits, feeding preferably on fish and insects, the latter of which occurred in 71.0% of the guts presenting contents. O. hepsetus consumed different items along the three reservoir zones: insects (61.0% IRI) and Cichla monoculus (38.9% IRI) in the lower zone; Lepidoptera (57.0% IRI) in the middle zone; and C. monoculus (77.0% IRI) in the upper zone. Food items changed seasonally with C. nonloculus predominating in autumn 2001, and Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera in the winter. In spring almost all food was Lepidoptera (99.8% IRI), while in the summer Hemiptera dominated in the diet. In autumn 2002 Hemiptera (97.0% IRI) was dominant, in significant contrast with the previous autumn. Individuals smaller than 190 mm SL fed heavily on insects, while fishes predominated in the diet of individuals larger than 190 mm SL. Shifts in prey-capture ability among length classes suggest decreasing intraspecific competition. A higher food plasticity seems to be the strategy employed by this opportunist species, which used food resources available in the reservoir.

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