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An appraisal of warm temperate mangrove estuaries as food patches using zooplankton and RNA: DNA ratios of Gilchristella aestuaria larvae as indicators

Mangrove habitats are considered as the ideal fish nursery as they are known to increase the growth and survival of juvenile fishes by providing enhanced food availability and protection. However, most studies have focused on tropical mangroves with a few recent warm temperate studies finding conflicting results. Furthermore, the nursery value of South African mangroves to fishes remain understudied in subtropical areas, while warm temperate mangroves are yet to be evaluated. This study aimed to assess whether mangrove presence leads to any advantage to the larvae of an important estuarine resident fish species, Gilchristella aestuaria, by comparing the food patch quality of South African warm temperate mangrove and non-mangrove estuaries. Results indicate that larvae fed primarily on the dominant prey species, Pseudodiaptomus hessei, Paracrtia longipatella, and Acartiella natalensis. However, postflexion larvae consumed more of the larger species, P. hessei, within the two mangrove estuaries (16.09 %V in Nahoon and 13.79 %V in Xhora) than the two nonmangrove estuaries (12.20 %V in Gonubie and 7.05 %V in Qora), despite other prey species occurring at similar densities. Results indicate that mangrove habitats acted as sediment sinks, slightly reducing the turbidity of these estuaries which resulted in postflexion larvae actively selecting larger, more nutritious prey, which in turn, significantly increased their individual instantaneous growth rates (0.11 ± 0.21 Gi) when compared to postflexion larvae in non-mangrove estuaries (0.09 ± 0.12 Gi). This study found that mangrove presence was significantly related to postflexion larval densities when coupled with abiotic (such as temperature and turbidity) and biotic factors (such as predator-prey interactions). Understanding the spatial and temporal dynamics, predator-prey interactions as well as the growth and survival of G. aestuaria is particularly important as they are key zooplanktivores that are prey to other species in estuarine food webs.
Date January 2018
CreatorsBornman, Eugin
PublisherNelson Mandela University, Faculty of Science
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeThesis, Masters, MSc
Format81 pages, pdf
RightsNelson Mandela University

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