DOI: 10.1111/jfb.15632 ISSN: 0022-1112

Morphology and diet are decoupled in nearshore notothenoids from King George Island, West Antarctica

Mauricio F. Landaeta, Matías Pareja, Mathias Hüne, Lisette Zenteno, Javier Vera‐Duarte, Valentina Bernal‐Durán, Manuel I. Castillo, Mario La Mesa
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Antarctic notothenioid fishes show wide adaptive morphological radiation, linked to habitat preferences and food composition. However, direct comparisons of phenotypic variability and feeding habits are still lacking, particularly in stages inhabiting nearshore areas. To assess these relationships, we collected juveniles and adults of the most common benthic species inhabiting shallow waters off the South Shetland Islands within a similar size range, the plunderfish Harpagifer antarcticus, the black rockcod Notothenia coriiceps, and the marbled rockcod Notothenia rossii. Individual size ranges varied from 44.0 to 98.9 mm SL (H. antarcticus), from 95.8 to 109.3 mm SL (N. coriiceps), and from 63.0 to 113.0 mm SL (N. rossii). Notothenioid fish showed different morphospace variability, being larger for H. antarcticus than the other Notothenia species and associated with the position of the posterior end of the operculum, along with the location and relative size of the eye. The evolutionary allometry was low, but the static allometry was much higher, especially for H. antarcticus and N. rossii. The diet was mainly carnivorous, consisting of amphipods and euphausiids. Macroalgae were scarce or totally absent in the gut contents of all species. Only H. antarcticus showed an increase in the prey number and ingested prey volume with fish size. Finally, there was a significant covariation between shape changes and standard length in all species (allometric effects), however, not with prey composition, probably due to the small size range or ontogenetic stage and the relative similarity (or lack of contrast) in the benthic environment that they utilized.

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