Stomach emptiness in fishes: Sources of variation and study design implications

Reviews in Fisheries Science
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Abstract

This study summarizes fish stomach content data from 369,000 fish from 402 species in 1,096 collections and reports on the percentage of individuals with empty stomachs. The mean percentage of individuals with empty stomachs among all species, locations, habitats, seasons, regions, and collection methods was 26.4%. Mean percentage of individuals with empty stomachs varied significantly among fish collection gear types, taxonomic orders, trophic groups, feeding behaviors, and habitats, and with species length at maturity. Most of the variation in percentage of individuals with empty stomachs was explained by species length at maturity, fish collection gear type, and two autecological factors: trophic group (piscivore percentage of individuals with empty stomachs > non-piscivore percentage of individuals with empty stomachs) and feeding habitat (water column feeder percentage of individuals with empty stomachs > benthic feeder percentage of individuals with empty stomachs). After accounting for variation with fish length, the percentage of individuals with empty stomachs did not vary with the stomach removal collection method (dissection vs. gastric lavage), feeding time (diurnal or nocturnal), or time of collection (day or night). The percentage of individuals with empty stomachs was similar between fresh and saltwater fish, but differed within finer habitat classifications and appeared to follow a general prey availability or productivity gradient: percentage of individuals with empty stomachs of open ocean collections > estuary collections, lentic > lotic, and pelagic > littoral. Gear type (active or passive) was the most influential factor affecting the occurrence of empty stomachs that can be readily controlled by researchers.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Stomach emptiness in fishes: Sources of variation and study design implications
Series title Reviews in Fisheries Science
DOI 10.1080/10641262.2010.536856
Volume 19
Issue 2
Year Published 2011
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Reviews in Fisheries Science
First page 63
Last page 73