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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 418:235-248 (2010)  -  DOI:

Isotopic assessment of prey and habitat preferences of a cetacean community in the southwestern South Atlantic Ocean

Luciana Riccialdelli1,2,*, Seth D. Newsome3, Marilyn L. Fogel4, R. Natalie P. Goodall1,2

1Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC), Bernardo A. Houssay 200, and
2Museo Acatushún de Aves y Mamíferos Marinos Australes, Sarmiento 44; Ushuaia (9410), Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
3Department of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming, 1000 E. University Avenue, Dept. 3166, Laramie, Wyoming 82071, USA
4Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 5251 Broad Branch Road NW, Washington, DC 20015-1305, USA

ABSTRACT: We used stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope analysis to investigate the trophic ecology of 8 small cetacean species of the southwestern South Atlantic Ocean: 6 delphinids (Grampus griseus, Lagenorhynchus cruciger, L. australis, Lissodelphis peronii, Pseudorca crassidens, and Cephalorhynchus commersonii) and 2 phocoenids (Phocoena dioptrica and P. spinipinnis). We also analyzed samples of possible prey collected from oceanic and coastal habitats adjacent to Tierra del Fuego. Cetacean bone-collagen δ13C and δ15N data revealed information on both habitat and prey preferences. We observed an isotopic continuum in which coastal species had the highest values of δ13C and δ15N (L. australis), while oceanic and southern species had the lowest values (L. cruciger and P. dioptrica), indicative of offshore foraging in cold oceanic waters near the Antarctic Convergence. Overlap in mean isotope values between C. commersonii and P. spinipinnis suggests that these species may have similar habitat and/or prey preferences. Isotope results for L. peronii, P. crassidens, and G. griseus suggest that at these latitudes (~54°S) they forage on the outer continental shelf. G. griseus show bimodal isotopic patterns, suggesting that 2 ecotypes that forage in different habitats and/or consume different prey items occur in this region of the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. The isotopic data presented here provide insight into the ecology of these cetaceans, with relevant implications for their successful management and conservation.

KEY WORDS: Stable isotopes · δ13C · δ15N · Small cetaceans · Foraging areas · Food/prey · South Atlantic Ocean · Southern Ocean

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Cite this article as: Riccialdelli L, Newsome SD, Fogel ML, Goodall RNP (2010) Isotopic assessment of prey and habitat preferences of a cetacean community in the southwestern South Atlantic Ocean. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 418:235-248.

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