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Aquatic Biology

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AB 5:167-179 (2009)  -  DOI:

Spatial heterogeneity in the food web of a heavily modified Mediterranean coastal lagoon: stable isotope evidence

Antoine Carlier1,3,*, Pascal Riera2, Jean-Michel Amouroux1, Jean-Yves Bodiou1, Martin Desmalades1, Antoine Grémare1,4

1Laboratoire d’Océanographie Biologique, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, CNRS, UMR 7621,
66650 Banyuls-sur-Mer, France
2Adaptation et Diversité en Milieu Marin, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, CNRS-INSU, UMR 7144, Station Biologique de Roscoff, place Georges-Teissier, BP 74, 29682 Roscoff, France
3Present address: Laboratoire des Sciences de l’Environnement Marin, UMR 6539 (CNRS-Université de Bretagne Occidentale-IRD), Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer (IUEM), Place Nicolas Copernic, Technopôle Brest Iroise, 29280 Plouzané, France
4Present address: Station Biologique d’Arcachon, UMR 5805, Université Bordeaux 1 – CNRS, 2 rue du Professeur Jolyet, 33120 Arcachon, France

ABSTRACT: We investigated the food web structure of the Salses-Leucate Lagoon (northwestern Mediterranean) through δ13C and δ15N analysis of its benthic macrofauna and potential food sources. This lagoon was heavily human-modified during the 1970s, allowing permanent exchange with the open sea and an increase in salinity from that time. As a result, it exhibits a much less marked salinity gradient than the neighbouring lagoon ecosystems, which suggests a priori that its food web structure is more homogeneous. In this environmental context, we assessed spatial variability in the isotopic composition of non-vagrant macrofauna in Salses-Leucate in relation to degree of connection with the open sea, anthropogenic inputs and the presence of oyster aquaculture. Overall, the main trophic pathway is based on suspended particulate organic matter and sedimented organic matter. However, there were marked spatial differences (at different scales) in both δ13C and δ15N values of macrofauna, which suggests an important feeding plasticity within each category of primary consumers at a small spatial scale. δ13C data showed that the contributions of the different food sources to the diet of primary consumers changed depending on distance from continental inputs, connection with the open sea and local primary producer coverage. Small-scale δ15N variability revealed a very localised influence of anthropogenic nitrogen output. Regarding the possible effect of aquaculture, the isotopic ratios of sediment and macrobenthos were not modified underneath the oyster lines with respect to the neighbouring area. Conversely, the isotopic signature of consumers living on the oyster lines contrasted with those living underneath. Therefore, our results suggest that a decoupling exists between the trophic pathways that occur in the water column and on the soft bottom of this shallow water ecosystem.

KEY WORDS: Food web · Lagoon · δ13C · δ15N · Spatial heterogeneity · Trophic plasticity · Shellfish aquaculture · Northwestern Mediterranean

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Cite this article as: Carlier A, Riera P, Amouroux JM, Bodiou JY, Desmalades M, Grémare A, (2009) Spatial heterogeneity in the food web of a heavily modified Mediterranean coastal lagoon: stable isotope evidence. Aquat Biol 5:167-179.

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