Trophic ecology of marine birds and pelagic fishes from Reunion Island as determined by stable isotope analysis

Abstract : Stable nitrogen and carbon isotopes were used to investigate trophic ecology in tropical marine bird and fish communities from Reunion Island, western Indian Ocean. Firstly, isotope signatures in the liver of Barau's petrels Pterodroma baraui, Audubon's shearwaters Puffinus lherminieri bailloni, and white-tailed tropicbirds Phaethon lepturus were used to compare their trophic levels and determine whether they forage in the same areas while breeding on Reunion Island. Spatial and trophic segregations were noted among these seabirds. Barau's petrels seem to feed on prey of higher trophic levels than Audubon's shearwaters. Different isotopic signatures in adults and juveniles of these species suggest that these chick-rearing Procellariiformes adopt a dual food-provisioning strategy, making separate foraging trips to feed their fledglings and for their own maintenance. Satellite tracking should be undertaken to verify this hypothesis. Furthermore, novel data were obtained on the seabirds' interbreeding period by analyzing feather signatures. White-tailed tropicbirds are thought to change foraging areas during this season, although none of the birds seemed to shift diets. Secondly, isotopic signatures in the muscle of yellowfin tuna Thunnus albacares, skipjack tuna Katsuwonus pelamis, and common dolphinfish Coryphaena hippurus were used to gather information on their feeding behaviors in Reunion Island waters. Spatial and trophic segregations were also observed, particularly between common dolphinfish and the tuna species, where the former fed more on low trophic level coastal organisms under fish aggregating devices than did the latter. Finally, trophic interactions in bird and fish communities were investigated. Seabirds appear to be trophically more structured than fish, foraging in a wider range of areas. Our results confirmed feeding associations between Audubon's shearwaters and yellowfin tuna.
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Marine Ecology Progress Series, Inter-Research, 2008, 361, pp.239-251. <10.3354/meps07355>
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Jessica Kojadinovic, Frédéric Ménard, Paco Bustamante, Richard Cosson, Matthieu Le Corre. Trophic ecology of marine birds and pelagic fishes from Reunion Island as determined by stable isotope analysis. Marine Ecology Progress Series, Inter-Research, 2008, 361, pp.239-251. <10.3354/meps07355>. <hal-00321435>

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