MEPS 187:147-158 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/meps187147

Food sources of the infaunal suspension-feeding bivalve Cerastoderma edule in a muddy sandflat of Marennes-Oléron Bay, as determined by analyses of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes

C. K. Kang*, P.-G. Sauriau**, P. Richard, G. F. Blanchard

Centre de Recherche en Écologie Marine et Aquaculture de L'Houmeau, CNRS-IFREMER UMR10, BP 5, 17137 L'Houmeau, France
*Present address: National Fisheries Research & Development Institute (Pohang Regional Laboratory), 616 Duho-dong, Buk-gu, Pohang 791-110, South Korea
**Addressee for correspondence. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios were used to define the trophic base of the infaunal suspension-feeding bivalve Cerastoderma edule (L.) living on an intertidal muddy sandflat in Marennes-Oléron Bay, France. Suspended particulate organic matter (POM) collected from adjacent marine channels had a mean δ13C value of -22.2 ± 1.1‰ (n = 19). Benthic primary producers on Ronce-les-Bains tidal flats had δ13C values distinct from that of the POM: microphytobenthos (-16.0 ± 0.6‰), the macroalgae Enteromorpha compressa (-17.6 ± 2.8‰), Fucus serratus (-17.4 ± 2.6‰), Fucus vesiculosus (-18.5 ± 1.6‰), Phorphyra umbilicalis (-19.7 ± 0.5‰), Ulva rigida (-14.7 ± 2.0‰) and the seagrass Zostera noltii (-11.1 ± 1.0‰). Mean δ15N values of all macroalgae species ranged from 7.6 ± 1.3 to 8.9 ± 1.0‰, while those for microphytobenthos, POM and seagrass were 5.3 ± 0.8, 5.0 ± 0.9 and 6.5 ± 1.3‰, respectively. The mean δ13C value of spat (-15.3 ± 0.8‰) and juvenile cockles (-15.7 ± 0.7‰) varied within a smaller range than those of 1 to 4 yr old adults (-18.2 ± 1.2‰). The δ15N values of 0-group cockles (spat and juveniles) and adult cockles are similar (8.0 ± 0.9‰ for 0-group and 8.4 ± 1.1‰ for adults). The results suggest, based on the average trophic enrichment found in the literature for C and N, and the relative abundance of each food source, that there are 2 major sources of organic matter assimilated by cockles of the studied flats: microphytobenthos and POM. Seasonal variations in δ13C values reflect a higher dependence of adult cockles on POM variability while spat and juveniles are more closely linked to microphytobenthos. The isotopic shifts indicate that the relative importance of the 2 major food sources depends on the age of the cockles and the season.


KEY WORDS: Stable isotope ratios · Particulate organic matter · Microphytobenthos · Cerastoderma edule · Suspension feeder


Full text in pdf format