Abundance, diet, foraging and nutritional condition of the banded butterflyfish (*Chaetodon striatus*) along the western Atlantic

Photo credit: JP Krajewski


The feeding behaviour and diet plasticity of a given species are usually shaped by the relationship between species physiology and the quality and availability of resources in the environment. As such, some species may achieve wide geographical distributions by utilizing multiple resources at different sites within their ranges. We studied the distribution and feeding of Chaetodon striatus, the most widespread butterflyfish in the Atlantic, by assessing its density and foraging rates in eight sites enclosing 44° of latitude. We also evaluated the relationship between fish density and foraging rates with nutritional condition and diet across study sites, and the gut length relative to body size. Density and foraging rates did not differ among studied sites. In 169 stomachs analysed, we found 52 different items (12–23 per site). Polychaeta and Cnidaria were the most important items in seven study sites. Therefore, C. striatus may be considered as a non-coral generalist feeder, as it feeds on a wide variety of items and substrata along the studied range, with no consistent selectivity pattern for foraging substratum across sites. Individuals from all sites but Salvador (NE Brazil) had similar RNA/DNA ratios, suggesting that C. striatus nutritional condition is similar along its extensive distribution. Our findings highlight the importance of assessing different sites within the distribution range of generalist butterflyfishes, and different variables, to a better comprehension of the feeding ecology of these species.

Marine Biology, 163: 6.