Diurnal feeding behavior of the American Eel Anguilla rostrata

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Abstract

Despite potential to structure ecosystem food webs through top-down effects, the trophic interactions of the American Eel Anguilla rostrata remain largely understudied. All previous research on the trophic ecology of American Eel in inland aquatic ecosystems has been conducted in temperate continental regions of the species’ range. These studies have led to a paradigm that American Eel is a nocturnally active benthic predator, which most commonly consumes benthic invertebrates. Tropical island streams and rivers have habitats and communities that are distinct from temperate counterparts, but comprise a large portion of the adult habitat in the American Eel's range. We documented a previously undescribed diurnal feeding behavior by American Eel in a Caribbean river and demonstrate that this behavior, and a shift toward more frequent daytime feeding, is linked to periodic mass migrations of postlarvae of amphidromous fish taxa, including the Sicydiine goby Sicydium spp. Our findings indicate that periodic mass migrations of amphidromous postlarvae could function as a potentially important food source for American Eel in tropical regions of its distribution, despite the intermittence of availability. Furthermore, this suggests that the American Eel plays an important role in the structure of tropical lotic food webs through top-down effects that are potentially augmented by instream barriers.

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Engman, A. C., Fischer, J. R., Kwak, T. J., & Walter, M. J. (2017). Diurnal feeding behavior of the American Eel Anguilla rostrata. Food Webs, 13, 27–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fooweb.2017.10.003

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