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Among nine species of a tropical community ecomorphological correlates were sought throughout ontogeny. Ontogenetic changes were distinguished by establishing six pre-defined size- classes. Morphometric data associated with feeding were compared by canonical correspondence analysis to dietary data. This analysis revealed seven significant relationships, showing 71% of the morphological variance explained 77% of the variance in diet. Based on funtional ecomorphological relationships established in other studies and results of the canonical correspondence analysis, three food characters were selected: the size of the food particles, the type of food (vegetable versus animal) and the vertical position in the water column. The morphometric data were reduced using principal component analysis into three axis explaining 83% of the variation. The morphological characters with the highest loadings were: mouth gape on the first principal component axis, length of the intestine tract on the second and the orientation of the mouth together with the presence of barbels on the third. These axis were significantly correlated with, respectively, the size, the type and the vertical position of the food. The importance of morphological changes during ontogeny in explaining dietary changes was shown because 75% of the variation in the first, and most important, morphological principal component was accounted for by differences between size-classes. Assuming functional relationships, the potential niches of the species/size-classes were established, distinguishing herbivorous, omnivorous/molluscivorous and carnivorous species which, in turn, were segregated by their potential to feed on larger prey. [KEYWORDS: morphology; ecology; diet; ontogeny; potential niche; cyprinids; tilapia Periphytic detrital aggregate; trophic specialization; functional-morphology; rainforest streams; niche separation; cottid fishes; cichlid fish; barbs barbus; lake tana; body size]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-86
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998

ID: 124383