alexa Food habits, occurrence, and population structure of the bat ray, Myliobatis californica, in Humboldt Bay, California
General Science

General Science

Entomology, Ornithology & Herpetology: Current Research

Author(s): Ann E Gray, Timothy J Mulligan, Robert W Hannah

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The bat ray, Myliobatis californica, is the most common, large predatory fish in Humboldt Bay, California. To prevent bat ray predation on cultured oyster beds, much effort has focused on reducing their population. A 13 month study was conducted in Humboldt Bay to examine the rays' use of the bay, population structure, and feeding ecology. Bat rays are seasonally found in Humboldt Bay during the spring, summer, and early fall months. Adult rays were most abundant during the summer months, while numbers of juveniles increased through the summer and early fall, indicating that Humboldt Bay is an important pupping and nursery ground. Very few rays were found in the bay during the colder months of the year. This decline in abundance is attributed to cooler water temperatures (< 10° C). The stomach contents from 503 bat rays were examined. Overall, clams were the predominant prey item. The index of importance and Shannon-Weiner diversity index indicated that food habits of bat rays change with increasing size. Larger prey items and a wider variety of prey items were consumed as rays increased in size. Dietary importance of small clams and Crangon shrimp decreased with increasing ray size, while the importance of larger prey items (e.g. large clams, Cancer crabs, blue mud shrimp, echiuran worms) increased. Predation on oysters was rare. Differences between the diets of male and female rays of similar sizes were also observed.

This article was published in Environmental Biology of Fishes and referenced in Entomology, Ornithology & Herpetology: Current Research

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