Diel feeding activity and resource partitioning of two sympatric gobiids in the Dniprodzerzhynsk Reservoir.
The diets of monkey goby, Neogobius fluviatilis, and racer goby, Babka gymnotrachelus, which are the most abundant gobiids in the Dniprodzerzhynsk Reservoir (Dnieper River, Ukraine), have been studied on a diel basis across three summer months at one sampling site of the reservoir littoral zone. In total, 37 prey items were identified in the monkey goby diet and 39 prey items were identified in the racer goby diet during the sampling period. The most important prey were chironomid larvae and pupae, copepods, cladocerans, mysids, and juvenile fish and their importance varied depending on goby size, diel period, and month. Both gobiids showed clear patterns in their diel feeding activities. Both species fed over a 24-h period, but the monkey goby fed more actively during the daytime, while the racer goby fed more at night. Peak chironomid larvae consumption by the monkey goby were from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 22:00 to 02:00,, while those by the racer goby were in the night-time from 18:00 to 6:00. The consumption of chironomid pupae peaked at dusk and night for both gobiids. Total diet overlap index between the two gobiids, during all months and diel periods combined was 78.6 and it varied between different length groups. The lowest diet overlap indices were observed between the smallest and largest length groups of the two species, while the highest overlap indices were observed between the same length classes of different species and between the neighbouring length groups of the same species. A negative relationship was observed between the difference in the mean lengths of two gobiid species and the diet overlap index. The monkey goby and racer goby can reduce their competition and be successive due to several factors: (i) different spawning periods allowing them to utilise food resources available for their juveniles at different periods; (ii) different habitat preferences resulting in (iii) somewhat different prey choices; (iv) different feeding activity periods.