Diet in phenotypically divergent sympatric species of African weakly electric fish (genus: Campylomormyrus)—A hybrid capture/HTS metabarcoding approach

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2023
Authors:Amen, R., Havenstein, K., Kirschbaum, F., Tiedemann R.
Date Published:Dec-21-2023
ISSN:0962-1083, 1365-294X

Ecological speciation within the mormyrid genus Campylomormyrus resulted in sympatric species exhibiting divergence in their feeding apparatus and electric organ discharge (EOD). This study documents the overall diet of the genus Campylomormyrus and examines the hypothesis that the Campylomormyrus radiation is caused by adaptation to different food sources. We performed diet assessment of five sympatric Campylomormyrus species (C. alces, C. compressirostris, C. curvirostris, C. tshokwe, C. numenius) and their sister taxon Gnathonemus petersii with markedly different snout morphologies and EODs using hybrid capture/HTS DNA metabarcoding of their stomach contents. Our approach allowed for high taxonomic resolution of prey items, including benthic invertebrates, allochthonous invertebrates and vegetation. Comparisons of the diet compositions using quantitative measures and diet overlap indices revealed that all species are able to exploit multiple food niches in their habitats, that is fauna at the bottom, the water surface and the water column. A major part of the diet is larvae of aquatic insects, such as dipterans, coleopterans and trichopterans, known to occur in holes and interstitial spaces of the substrate. The results indicate that different snout morphologies and the associated divergence in the EOD could translate into different prey spectra. This suggests that the diversification in EOD and/or morphology of the feeding apparatus could be under functional adaptation.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith