Organic matter derived from kelp supports a large proportion of biomass in temperate rocky reef fish communities: Implications for ecosystem‐based management
December 13, 2019 - 1:04pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2019
Date published: 05/2019
Journal title: Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
- The relative availability of alternative organic matter sources directly influences trophic interactions within ecological communities. As differences in trophic ecology can alter the productivity of communities, understanding spatial variability in trophic structure, and the drivers of variability, is vital for implementing effective ecosystem‐based management.
- Bulk stable isotope analysis (δ13C and δ15N) and mass balance calculations were used to examine patterns in the contribution of organic matter derived from macroalgae to food webs supporting temperate reef fish communities in two contrasting coastal waterways on the South Island of New Zealand: Fiordland and the Marlborough Sounds. Ten fish species common to both regions were compared, with up to 40% less organic matter from macroalgae supporting omnivorous species in the Marlborough Sounds. The largest differences in trophic position were found in those species exploited by fisheries.
- Furthermore, stratified surveys of abundance and species biomass combined with trophic position data were used to calculate regional differences in the contribution of macroalgae to whole fish communities in terms of density of biomass. In Fiordland, over 77% of the biomass of exploited reef fishes was supported by macroalgae, compared with 31% in the Marlborough Sounds.
- Surveys of macroalgal density and species composition in the two regions indicated that regional differences in trophodynamics may be explained by a lack of macroalgal inputs to the food web in the Marlborough Sounds.
- The findings demonstrate large regional differences in the incorporation of benthic and pelagic sources of organic matter to food webs supporting reef fish communities, highlighting the need for ecosystem‐based approaches to management to recognize spatial variability in primary production supporting coastal food webs.
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