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High variability in spatial and temporal size-based trophodynamics of deep-sea fishes from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge elucidated by stable isotopes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr William Reid, Dr Christopher Sweeting, Dr Benjamin Wigham, Professor Nick Polunin


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Demersal fish play an important role in the deep-sea ecosystem by acting as a link to mobile food in the water column, consuming benthic fauna, breaking down large food parcels and dispersing organic matter over large areas. Poor diet resolution from stomach content analysis often impairs the ability to assess differences in inter- and intra-population trophodynamics and therefore understand resource partitioning among deep-sea fishes. Antimora rostrata (predator–scavenger), Coryphaenoides armatus (predator–scavenger), Coryphaenoides brevibarbis (predator) and Halosauropsis macrochir (predator) were collected from 3 stations on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) in 2007 and 2009 to investigate trophic ecology using δ13C and δ15N. Variability in lipid-normalised δ13C (δ13Cn) and δ15N was explained by body length in all species but slope and significance of the isotope–length relationships varied both temporally and spatially. δ15N increases with length were observed in A. rostrata at all stations, C. brevibarbis and H. macrochir at one or more stations but were absent in C. armatus. δ13Cn increased with length in A. rostrata but the slope of δ13Cn–length relationships varied spatially and temporally in C. armatus and C. brevibarbis. The co-occurring δ13Cn and δ15N size-based trends in A. rostrata and H. macrochir suggested that size-based trends were a result of increasing trophic position. In C. armatus and C. brevibarbis the isotope-length trends were difficult to distinguish among trophic position increases, shifts in resource use i.e. benthic to pelagic or internal physiology. However, the overall strength, direction and significance of isotope-length trends varied temporally and spatially which suggested varying degrees of overlap in trophic ecology and feeding plasticity among these species.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Reid WDK, Sweeting CJ, Wigham BD, McGill RAR, Polunin NVC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography

Year: 2013

Volume: 98

Issue: Part B

Pages: 412-420

Print publication date: 15/12/2013

Online publication date: 21/01/2013

ISSN (print): 0967-0645

ISSN (electronic): 1879-0100

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.01.020


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