Fatty acid trophic markers elucidate resource partitioning within the demersal fish community of South Georgia and Shag Rocks (Southern Ocean)
Fatty acid analysis was used to study the trophic ecology of 10 demersal fish species in the South Georgia region. Principal component analysis grouped the species into three general clusters, revealing resource partitioning between species. Two groups were characterised by large proportions of either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids, separating species according to their predominant feeding habitat. The third group showed fatty acid signatures overlapping with either or both of the previous two groups, suggesting a more opportunistic feeding behaviour for these species. Intraspecific comparisons furthermore revealed dietary variability with size, year and geographical location in several species. Mackerel icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari) in particular showed inter-annual differences in muscle lipid concentrations closely linked to prey availability with low lipid contents found in years of low krill (Euphausia superba) abundance. Despite the intraspecific differences the majority of species could be easily distinguished from each other, which indicates the utility of this method in the dietary analysis of higher predators.
Authors: Stowasser, Gabriele ORCID record for Gabriele Stowasser, Pond, David W., Collins, Martin A.