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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 418 - Feature article
Reef fish on a bank summit of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Image: Raymond Boland

Jacinthe Piché, Sara J. Iverson, Frank A. Parrish, Robert Dollar


Characterization of forage fish and invertebrates in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands using fatty acid signatures: species and ecological groups


Coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine ecosystem. Understanding the trophic relationships and energy flow through these highly diverse systems thus represents a tremendous challenge. Piché and co-authors demonstrated that groups of closely related and ecologically equivalent species can be distinguished from one another on the basis of their fatty acid composition. Differences in fatty acid content primarily reflected diet, but were also related to habitat and ecology. Fatty acid analyses can thus assist in unravelling the complex network of interactions structuring tropical coral reef ecosystems.


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