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Northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon) eating a catfish
Northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon) eating a catfish

A piscivore /ˈpɪsɪvɔːr/ is a carnivorous animal that eats primarily fish. The name "piscivore" is derived from the Latin word for fish, piscis. Piscivore is equivalent to the Greek-derived word ichthyophage, both of which mean "fish eater". Fish were the diet of early tetrapods (amphibians); insectivory came next, then in time, reptiles added herbivory.[1]

Some animals, such as the sea lion and alligator, are not completely piscivorous, often preying on aquatic invertebrates or land animals in addition to fish, while others, such as the bulldog bat and gharial, are strictly dependent on fish for food. Humans can live on fish-based diets as can their carnivorous domesticated pets, such as dogs and cats. Some creatures, including cnidarians, octopuses, squid, spiders, sharks, cetaceans, grizzly bears, jaguars, wolves, snakes, turtles, and sea gulls, may have fish as significant if not dominant portions of their diets.

The ecological effects of piscivores can extend to other food chains. In a study of cutthroat trout stocking, researchers found that the addition of this piscivore can have noticeable effects on non-aquatic organisms, in this case bats feeding on insects emerging from the water with the trout.[2] Another study done on lionfish removal to maintain low densities use piscivore densities as a biological indicator for coral reef success.[3]

There exists classifications of primary and secondary piscivores. Primary piscivores, also known as "specialists", shift to this habit in the first few months of their lives. Secondary piscivores will move to eating primarily fish later in their lifetime. It is hypothesized that the secondary piscivores' diet change is due to an adaptation to maintain efficiency in their use of energy while growing.[4]

Examples of extant piscivores

Extinct and prehistoric piscivores

Numerous extinct and prehistoric animals are hypothesized to have been primarily piscivorous due to anatomy and/or ecology. Furthermore, some have been confirmed to be piscivorous through fossil evidence. This list includes specialist piscivores, such as Laganosuchus, as well as generalist predators, such as Baryonyx & Spinosaurus, found to have or assumed to have eaten fish.

Specimen of Diplomystus swallowing another fish
Specimen of Diplomystus swallowing another fish

References

  1. ^ Sahney, S., Benton, M. J. & Falcon-Lang, H. J. (2010). "Rainforest collapse triggered Pennsylvanian tetrapod diversification in Euramerica". Geology. 38 (12): 1079–1082. Bibcode:2010Geo....38.1079S. doi:10.1130/G31182.1.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Rudman, Seth M.; Heavyside, Julian; Rennison, Diana J.; Schluter, Dolph (2016-12-01). "Piscivore addition causes a trophic cascade within and across ecosystem boundaries". Oikos. 125 (12): 1782–1789. doi:10.1111/oik.03204. ISSN 1600-0706.
  3. ^ Harms-Tuohy, Chelsea A.; Appeldoorn, Richard S.; Craig, Matthew T. (2018). "The effectiveness of small-scale lionfish removals as a management strategy: effort, impacts and the response of native prey and piscivores". Management of Biological Invasions. 9 (2): 149–162. doi:10.3391/mbi.2018.9.2.08. ISSN 1989-8649.
  4. ^ a b c Hart, Paul (2002). Handbook of Fish Biology and Fisheries. 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 267–283. ISBN 978-0632054121.CS1 maint: location (link)
  5. ^ Bright, Michael (2000). The private life of sharks : the truth behind the myth. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-2875-1.[page needed]
  6. ^ a b Sereno, Paul C.; Beck, Allison L.; Dutheil, Didier B.; Gado, Boubacar; Larsson, Hans C. E.; Lyon, Gabrielle H.; Marcot, Jonathan D.; Rauhut, Oliver W. M.; Sadleir, Rudyard W.; Sidor, Christian A.; Varricchio, David D.; Wilson, Gregory P.; Wilson, Jeffrey A. (1998). "A long-snouted predatory dinosaur from africa and the evolution of spinosaurids". Science. 282 (5392): 1298–302. Bibcode:1998Sci...282.1298S. doi:10.1126/science.282.5392.1298. PMID 9812890.
  7. ^ Dal Sasso, C.; Maganuco, S.; Cioffi, A. (26 May 2009). "A neurovascular cavity within the snout of the predatory dinosaur Spinosaurus". 1st International Congress on North African Vertebrate Palaeontology. Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
  8. ^ Devlin, Hannah (November 20, 2009). "Meet Boar, Rat and Pancake: the ancient, giant crocodiles found in Sahara". Times Online.
  9. ^ David, Lore Rose. January 10, 1943. Miocene Fishes of Southern California The Society p 104-115
  10. ^ Head, J.J; Bloch, J. I; Moreno-Bernal, J. (2013). "Cranial Osteology, Body Size, Systematics and Ecology of the giant Paleocene snake Titanoboa cerrejonensis". Vertebrate Paleontology: 140–141.