Alternate Title

Food Habits of Blueline Tilefish, Caulolatilus microps, and Snowy Grouper, Epinephelus niveatus, from the Lower Florida Keys


Dietary analyses of Intestinal contents from 96 blueline tileflsh Caulolatilus microps (mean TL = 528 ± 94 mm SO) and 32 snowy grouper Epinephelus nlveatus (mean TL = 609 ± 146mm SD) collected from the shelf environments (123-256 m) in the lower Florida Keys during July 1980 and May-October 1981, revealed that the two predatory species exhibited different feeding strategies. Blueline tileflsh preyed principally on benthic Invertebrates, and snowy grouper on fish. Copepods, ophluroids, and gastropods comprised 60% of the numerical, and urochordates 40% of the volumetric intestinal contents of blueline tilefish. Frequency of occurrence of prey consumed by tileflsh exceeded 50% only for two major taxa - Polychaeta and Natantla. Osteichthyes comprised 47% and 52% of the numerical and volumetric consumption of prey, respectively, by snowy grouper, and occurred in 72% of the Intestines; cephalopods ranked second in numerical importance (18%), and brachyuran crabs second in volumetric Importance (29%). Differences in prey taxa, space niche, and fish anatomy Indicated that blueline tilefish and snowy grouper occupy different trophic niches, which reduce Interspecific competition.