Food habits, ecomorphological patterns and niche breadth of the squeaker, Synodontis schall (Pisces: Siluriformes: Mochokidae) from Niger River in Northern Benin

Hamidou Arame, Alphonse Adite, Kayode Nambil Adjibade, Rachad Sidi Imorou, Edmond Sossoukpe, Sonon P. Stanislas

Abstract

 The squeaker, Synodontis schall dominates the Mochokid fish sub-community in Niger River in Northern Benin and shows a great economic and commercial importance. The diet of S. schall has been analysed to evaluate the food habit and resource utilization in this regional River. Fish samplings were made monthly from February 2015 to July 2016 using unbaited longlines and traps, seines and experimental gillnets. The results indicated that S. schall is an omnivore foraging in benthic and pelagic habitats with diet dominated by aquatic insects (34.32%), sand particles (18.768%), macrophytes (13.415%), seeds (8.549%), roots (8.319%), detritus (5.344%), mollusks (1.204%) and phytoplankton (0.6255%). The omnivore food habit depicted was also shown by the ecomorphological analysis mainly the relative gut length (GL/SL) varying between 0.8 and 5. The species showed high diet flexibility with high niche breadth ranging between 1.86 and 5.74. Synodontis schall exhibited an ontogenetic diet shift that was also confirmed by Pianka’s diet overlap indexes ranging between Øjk=0.54-0.93. The conservation and the sustainable fisheries exploitation of S. schall require the reinforcement of fishing regulation, habitat protection and ecosystem follow-up.

 

 

Keywords

Conservation, Diet, Sustainable exploitation, Omnivore, Mochokidae.

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