Inter-Research > MEPS > v416 > p295-306  
MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

via Mailchimp

MEPS 416:295-306 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08790

Stable isotope analysis reveals habitat partitioning among marine mammals off the NW African coast and unique trophic niches for two globally threatened species

A. M. Pinela*, A. Borrell, L. Cardona, A. Aguilar

Department of Animal Biology, Faculty of Biology and Biodiversity Research Institute, University of Barcelona, 08028 Barcelona, Spain

ABSTRACT: Stable isotope abundances of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) in the bone of 13 species of marine mammals from the northwest coast of Africa were investigated to assess their positions in the local trophic web and their preferred habitats. Also, samples of primary producers and potential prey species from the study area were collected to characterise the local isotopic landscape. This characterisation indicated that δ13C values increased from offshore to nearshore and that δ15N was a good proxy for trophic level. Therefore, the most coastal species were Monachus monachus and Sousa teuszii, whereas the most pelagic were Physeter macrocephalus and Balaenoptera acutorostrata. δ15N values indicated that marine mammals located at the lowest trophic level were B. acutorostrata, Stenella coeruleoalba and Delphinus sp., and those occupying the highest trophic level were M. monachus and P. macrocephalus. The trophic level of Orcinus orca was similar to that of M. monachus, suggesting that O. orca preys on fish. Conservation of coastal and threatened species (M. monachus and S. teuszii) off NW Africa should be a priority because these species, as the main apex predators, cannot be replaced by other marine mammals.


KEY WORDS: Marine mammals · Stable isotopes · Trophic ecology · Habitat use · NW Africa


Full text in pdf format 
Cite this article as: Pinela AM, Borrell A, Cardona L, Aguilar A (2010) Stable isotope analysis reveals habitat partitioning among marine mammals off the NW African coast and unique trophic niches for two globally threatened species. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 416:295-306. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08790

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
Facebook - - linkedIn