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Dietary analysis reveals the vulnerability of the endangered Maugean skate (Zearaja maugeana) to benthic changes in Macquarie Harbour


Weltz, K and Lyle, JM and Bell, JD and Semmens, JM, Dietary analysis reveals the vulnerability of the endangered Maugean skate (Zearaja maugeana) to benthic changes in Macquarie Harbour, Marine and Freshwater Research, 70, (5) pp. 745-753. ISSN 1323-1650 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 the authors.

DOI: doi:10.1071/MF18231


Species occupying high trophic positions with a small population size, limited diet and restricted range are vulnerable to extinction. The endangered Maugean skate (Zearaja maugeana) in Macquarie Harbour is potentially threatened by changing benthic environmental conditions (declining dissolved oxygen concentrations and decreased macrofaunal diversity). To inform investigations on potential indirect impacts of benthic environmental changes on the Maugean skate and its prey, non-lethal techniques were used to identify dietary composition and trophic position of the species. The Maugean skate occupies a high trophic position (3.70) in the food web, with both stable-isotope (median 86% contribution to isotopic signatures, credible interval (CI)=44100%) and stomach-content analysis showing crustaceans, particularly brachyuran crabs (58.5% index of relative importance), as the dominant prey type. Aquaculture feed from salmonid fish farms operating in the harbour was not found to be important in skate diet. This study showed that the Maugean skate consumes a small number of benthic prey species, highlighting its vulnerability to changing environmental conditions in the harbour.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:endangered elasmobranch, stable isotope analysis, trophic position, stomach-content analysis, stable isotope mixing model
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Fish physiology and genetics
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Fisheries - wild caught
Objective Field:Wild caught fin fish (excl. tuna)
UTAS Author:Weltz, K (Miss Kay Weltz)
UTAS Author:Lyle, JM (Associate Professor Jeremy Lyle)
UTAS Author:Bell, JD (Dr Justin Bell)
UTAS Author:Semmens, JM (Professor Jayson Semmens)
ID Code:130527
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2019-01-31
Last Modified:2021-03-31

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