Trophic ecology of large predatory reef fishes: energy pathways, trophic level, and implications for fisheries in a changing climate

Frisch, Ashley J., Ireland, Matthew, and Baker, Ronald (2014) Trophic ecology of large predatory reef fishes: energy pathways, trophic level, and implications for fisheries in a changing climate. Marine Biology, 161 (1). pp. 61-73.

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Large predatory fishes are disproportionately targeted by reef fisheries, but little is known about their trophic ecology, which inhibits understanding of community dynamics and the potential effects of climate change. In this study, stable isotope analyses were used to infer trophic ecology of a guild of large predatory fishes that are targeted by fisheries on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Each of four focal predators (Plectropomus leopardus, Plectropomus maculatus, Lethrinus miniatus and Lutjanus carponotatus) was found to have a distinct isotopic signature in terms of δ13C and δ15N. A two-source mixing model (benthic reef-based versus pelagic) indicated that P. leopardus and L. miniatus derive the majority (72 and 62 %, respectively) of their production from planktonic sources, while P. maculatus and L. carponotatus derive the majority (89 and 74 %, respectively) of their production from benthic reef-based sources. This indicates that planktonic production is important for sustaining key species in reef fisheries and highlights the need for a whole-ecosystem approach to fisheries management. Unexpectedly, there was little isotopic niche overlap between three of four focal predators, suggesting that inter-specific competition for prey may be low or absent. δ15Nitrogen indicated that the closely related P. leopardus and P. maculatus are apex predators (trophic level > 4), while δ13C indicated that each species has a different diet and degree of trophic specialisation. In view of these divergent trophic ecologies, each of the four focal predators (and the associated fisheries) are anticipated to be differentially affected by climate-induced disturbances. Thus, the results presented herein provide a useful starting point for precautionary management of exploited predator populations in a changing climate.

Item ID: 31650
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1793
Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2014 10:00
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830204 Wild Caught Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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