The influence of sex and maturity on the diet, mouth morphology and dentition of the Port Jackson shark, Heterodontus portusjacksoni

Publisher:
CSIRO Publishing
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Marine and Freshwater Research, 2010, 61 (1), pp. 74 - 85
Issue Date:
2010-01
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Dietary studies are essential for an understanding of elasmobranch ecology and their role in marine ecosystems. The diet, head morphology and dentition of Heterodontus portusjacksoni, an abundant, epibenthic shark in the coastal waters of temperate eastern Australia, were examined in 20042005. The stomach contents of the juvenile, subadult and adult stages of 136 males and 100 females were examined. Diets were broad (32 prey taxa), but dominated by molluscs, teleosts and cephalopods. Analyses of stomach contents data demonstrated that diet differed significantly by ontogenetic stage, but not by sex. Juveniles and subadults consumed mainly benthic infauna and epifauna, with subadults ingesting greater amounts of diogenid crustaceans, and adult diets dominated by demersal/pelagic prey. Trophic level differed ontogenetically, from secondary consumers as juveniles and subadults to tertiary consumers as adults. The mainly tricuspidate juvenile dentition changed with maturity to a greater proportion of large molariform distal teeth, whereas the snout and jaw lengthened and broadened. Adult males retained a greater proportion of anterior S-family teeth than females, which was most likely related to copulation. The ontogenetic variation in dietary composition, facilitated by differences in dentition and mouth morphology, demonstrated that dietary resources were partitioned ontogenetically.
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