Herbivory and seasonal changes in diet of a highly endemic cyprinodontid fish (Aphanius farsicus)

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Trophic ecology is essential to understand ecosystem functioning and structure and assist biological conservation. Here we investigate, for the first time, the feeding ecology of Aphanius farsicus, a cyprinodontid fish endemic of a single landlocked river basin in central Iran. We sampled monthly a population of this fish species during a year and examined differences in food across seasons, sexes and sizes. Similarly to other cyprinodonts, A. farsicus showed sexual dimorphism and more abundance of females. Size structure and individual condition varied across seasons, with larger fish in spring and better condition in summer and less in winter. We found no empty guts, suggesting that these fish feed all year round due to the warm climate of its native distribution. Farsi toothcarp diet was based on detritus, algae (particularly diatoms, green algae, and cyanobacteria), and small invertebrates. Seasonal variation in diet was more important than variation due to fish size and the Farsi toothcarp consumed more green algae in spring and early summer and more diatoms and insects the rest of the year. Herbivory was considerable, similarly to a few other cyprinodonts, and increased with fish size, particularly because of higher consumption of green algae. As with species composition in diet, season was more important than size in the variation of number, biovolume, mean size, and diversity of prey captured, with higher number, richness and size of prey captured in summer. The ontogenetic diet shift was less marked in this cyprinodont than in many other Aphanius species, probably due to its reduced size and the resource availability of its habitat, but was also shown by size-dependent feeding selectivity for a few invertebrates ​
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