Variation in foraging behavior facilitates resource partitioning in a polymorphic cichlid, Herichthys minckleyi

Brook O. Swanson, Alice C. Gibb, Jane C. Marks, Dean A. Hendrickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We examined foraging behavior (microhabitat use and feeding behavior) in a trophically polymorphic cichlid fish, Herichthys minckleyi, to address several questions regarding resource partitioning in this threatened species. These include: (1) do morphotypes demonstrate different foraging behaviors? (2) do individuals within a morphotype vary in their foraging behavior (e.g. are some individuals specialists, only using a subset of available resources, while other are generalists)? (3) do foraging behaviors vary between isolated pools? (4) do foraging behaviors vary across seasons? We quantified microhabitat use and feeding behavior for over 100 individuals (of two morphotypes) feeding freely in two isolated pools (populations) and across two seasons (winter and summer). We found differences in foraging behavior between morphotypes and individual specializations within morphotypes; i.e. some individuals specialize on certain food resources by using a few feeding behaviors within a subset of microhabitats, whereas others employ a range feeding behaviors across many microhabitats. Foraging behavior also varied between pools and across seasons. This spatial and temporal variation in foraging behavior and resource use may serve to maintain this polymorphism, as the relative fitness of the each morph may vary over space and time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-154
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Feeding ecology
  • Individual specialization
  • Intra-specific variation
  • Trophic polymorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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