Food web structure in a near-pristine mangrove area of the Australian Wet Tropics

Abrantes, Kátya, and Sheaves, Marcus (2009) Food web structure in a near-pristine mangrove area of the Australian Wet Tropics. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 82 (4). pp. 597-607.

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Carbon and nitrogen isotopic composition was used to identify the main sources of carbon and describe the main trophic pathways in Deluge Inlet, a near-pristine mangrove estuary in tropical north Queensland, Australia. Producers' δ13C varied from −28.9‰ for mangroves to −18.6‰ for seagrass. Animals were also well separated in δ13C (−25.4‰ to −16.3‰ for invertebrates and −25.2‰ to −17.2‰ for fish), suggesting considerable differences in ultimate sources of carbon, from a substantial reliance on mangrove carbon to an almost exclusive reliance on seagrass. In general, invertebrates had lower δ15N than fish, indicating lower trophic levels. Among fish, δ15N values reflected well the assumed trophic levels, as species from lower trophic levels had lower δ15N than species from higher trophic levels. Trophic levels and trophic length were estimated based on δ15N of invertebrate primary consumers (6.1‰), with results suggesting a food web with four trophic levels. There was also evidence of a high level of diet overlap between fish species, as indicated by similarities in δ13C for fish species of higher trophic levels. Stable isotope data was also useful to construct a general model for this food web, where five main trophic pathways were identified: one based on both mangrove and microphytobenthos, one on plankton, two on both microphytobenthos and seagrass, and one based mainly on seagrass. This model again suggested the presence of four trophic levels, in agreement with the value calculated based on the difference in δ15N between invertebrate primary consumers and top piscivores.

Item ID: 5412
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1096-0015
Keywords: tropical biology, marine science, stable isotope analysis, estuary, food webs, fish, mangroves, Australia, North Queensland, Hinchinbrook Channel, Deluge Inlet, 146.053°E, 18.258°S
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2009 23:47
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 25%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 25%
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