Alternate Title

The Relative Abundance and Feeding Habits of Juvenile Kingfish (Sciaenidae: Menticirrhus) in a Gulf of Mexico Surf Zone


We describe seasonal and diel occurrence patterns, density, dietary progressions, and trophic relationships of Menticirrhus littoralis, M. americanus and M. saxatitis collected from the Horn Island, Mississippi, surf zone. Menticirrhus littoralis was the most abundant species (62.7%), followed by M. americanus (21.8%) and M. saxatitis (15.5%). Densities were highest during spring and summer and decreased markedly during the winter. Species showed diel changes in abundance, with abundance increasing during dusk and dawn for M. littoralis, and during the day for M. americanus and M. saxatilis. All three species showed ontogenetic progressions in diet, with siphon tips from Donax spp., cumaceans and mysids being most important to smaller (<80 mm SL) M. littoralis and M. americanus; cumaceans, mysids and amphipods were most important to smaller M. saxatitis. Larger individuals of all three species fed more on whole Donax, polychaetes, Emerita talpoida, brachyurans, and fishes. Both intra- and interspecific dietary overlap was greatest for the smaller size groups of juveniles and declined with growth. Dietary overlap between 20 mm size classes was greatest for intra- compared to interspecific comparisons.