Alternate Title

Feeding Periodicity and Prey Habitat Preference of Red Snapper, Lutjanus campechanus (Poey, 1860) on Alabama Artificial Reefs


Conclusive understanding of the role temperate artificial reefs play in the trophic dynamics of Lutjanus campechanus (Poey, 1860) is limited. Thus, diel feeding habits of red snapper on artificial reefs were examined using gut fullness, diet composition, and prey habitat preferences. Red snapper were collected by hook and line from artificial reefs off Alabama in July and Aug. 2000. Examination of stomach contents found red snapper feeding upon fish, demersal crustaceans, and pelagic zooplankton. Although other studies suggest that lutjanids primarily feed nocturnally, red snapper in this study fed throughout the day and night. Significant differences in gut fullness were found between 2-hr time intervals; however, no obvious pattern in feeding periodicity was evident. Although fish was the largest diet component by weight for both day and night during diel sampling, examination of prey habitat preferences indicate that red snapper fed on more water-column organisms during the day and more sand- or mud-associated organisms at night. Based on our interpretation of these results, we hypothesize that red snapper reside above the reefs during the day, opportunistically feeding mostly upon water-column-associated organisms and some benthic prey. At night they may move away from the reef to consume nocturnally active fishes and benthic crustaceans.