Habitat and trophic ecology of Southern Ocean cephalopods from stable isotope analyses
Although cephalopods play a critical role in marine food webs both as predators and prey, there is a limited knowledge of several basic aspects of their ecology, including their habitat and trophic level, in the Southern Ocean. We examined the ecological role of several Southern Ocean cephalopod species by analyzing δ13C and δ15N values in lower cephalopod beaks obtained from diet samples of wandering albatross Diomedea exulans from South Georgia (Atlantic Ocean), and from Crozet and Kerguelen Islands (Indian Ocean). Beak δ13C values ranged from -25.7 to -17.9‰, and were used to assign different cephalopod species to the subtropical, sub-Antarctic or Antarctic Zones. Beak δ15N values were more variable among species, ranging from 2.4 to 13.3‰, a difference of ~11‰ that represents approx. 3 trophic levels. Differences among islands in isotope ratios in the same cephalopod species (higher δ15N and lower δ13C values in South Georgia) were attributed to regional oceanographic processes. Antarctic cephalopods occupy niches similar to those found in some pelagic fish, seabirds and marine mammals. As cephalopods are key components in Southern Ocean food webs, these results greatly advance our understanding of the structure, energy and carbon flows in this polar ecosystem.
Authors: Guerreiro, Miguel, Phillips, Richard A., Cherel, Yves, Ceia, Filipe R., Alvito, Pedro, Rosa, Rui, Xavier, Jose C.