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DNA evidence of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) feeding on red crab (Gecarcoidea natalis) larvae at Christmas Island, Australia

Meekan, MG, Jarman, SN, McLean, C and Schultz, MB (2009). DNA evidence of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) feeding on red crab (Gecarcoidea natalis) larvae at Christmas Island, Australia. Marine & Freshwater Research,60(6):607-609.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 18 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Title DNA evidence of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) feeding on red crab (Gecarcoidea natalis) larvae at Christmas Island, Australia
Author Meekan, MG
Jarman, SN
McLean, C
Schultz, MB
Journal Name Marine & Freshwater Research
Publication Date 2009
Volume Number 60
Issue Number 6
ISSN 1323-1650   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-67650948273
Start Page 607
End Page 609
Total Pages 3
Place of Publication Australia
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are thought to aggregate in nearshore waters around Christmas Island (105◦37E, 10◦29S) to consume the marine larvae of the endemic red land crab (Gecarcoidea natalis). However, there have been no direct observations of sharks feeding on crab larvae. Whale shark faeces were analysed using genetic testing to confirm the presence of crab larvae in their diet. Primers were designed for amplifying two Gecarcoidea natalis mitochondrial small-subunit (mtSSU) rDNA regions. Gel electrophoresis of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products amplified from whale shark faecal DNA produced bands of the expected size for G. natalis templates. Specificity of both primer sets for G. natalis mtSSU rDNA was expected to be high from comparisons with mtSSU rDNA regions from closely related crabs and we confirmed their specificity empirically. The amplification of fragments from faecal DNA of the same size as those produced from G. natalis DNA indicates that the whale shark had been feeding on G. natalis and that enough of the crab DNA survived digestion to be detected by these PCRs. Our study provides further evidence that aggregations of whale sharks in coastal waters occur in response to ephemeral but predictable increases in planktonic prey.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF08254   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
 
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Created: Wed, 24 Mar 2010, 14:57:17 CST by Sarena Wegener