Foraging ecology of ringed seals (Pusa hispida), beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) and narwhals (Monodon monoceros) in the Canadian High Arctic determined by stomach content and stable isotope analysis

Matley, Jordan K., Fisk, Aaron T., and Dick, Terry A. (2015) Foraging ecology of ringed seals (Pusa hispida), beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) and narwhals (Monodon monoceros) in the Canadian High Arctic determined by stomach content and stable isotope analysis. Polar Research, 34. 24295. pp. 1-11.

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Abstract

Stomach content and stable isotope analysis (delta C-13 and delta N-15 from liver and muscle) were used to identify habitat and seasonal prey selection by ringed seals (Pusa hispida; n = 21), beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas; n = 13) and narwhals (Monodon monoceros; n = 3) in the eastern Canadian Arctic. Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) was the main prey item of all three species. Diet reconstruction from otoliths and stable isotope analysis revealed that while ringed seal size influenced prey selection patterns, it was variable. Prey-size selection and on-site observations found that ringed seals foraged on smaller, non-schooling cod whereas belugas and narwhals consumed larger individuals in schools. Further interspecific differences were demonstrated by delta C-13 and delta N-15 values and indicated that ringed seals consumed inshore Arctic cod compared to belugas and narwhals, which foraged to a greater extent offshore. This study investigated habitat variability and interseasonal variation in the diet of Arctic marine mammals at a local scale and adds to the sparse data sets available in the Arctic. Overall, these findings further demonstrate the critical importance of Arctic cod to Arctic food webs.

Item ID: 41712
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1751-8369
Keywords: Arctic marine mammals, stable isotopes, stomach contents, Bayesian mixing models, diet, Arctic cod
Additional Information:

© 2015 J.K. Matley et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funders: Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Canada, Kenneth M. Molson Foundation, University of Manitoba, Canada
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 17:27
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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