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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 420:277-281 (2010)  -  DOI:

Functional diversity in amphipods revealed by stable isotopes in an eelgrass ecosystem

J. P. Farlin1,*, L. S. Lewis1,2, T. W. Anderson1, C. T. Lai1

1 Department of Biology and Coastal & Marine Institute, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, California 92182-4614, USA
2Present address: Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, California 92083-0202, USA

ABSTRACT: Amphipods are often dominant components of benthic marine communities and may exhibit taxon-specific differences in feeding behavior. As a result, variation in the composition of amphipod communities is an important metric for the interpretation of trophic dynamics in benthic marine ecosystems. Though previous studies of amphipod diets indicate functional diversity among taxa, few studies have examined whether these differences are detectible using time-integrated natural tracers of in situ feeding habits. We used stable isotope ratios of nitrogen (δ15N) and carbon (δ13C) to examine trophic structure among amphipod taxa belonging to 5 families in an eelgrass (Zostera marina) ecosystem in San Diego Bay, California. The relative contribution of sources of primary production to amphipod diets was further analyzed using a mixing model bracketed by 2 dominant sources of primary production in the system: eelgrass and algae. We detected significant differences in both δ13C and δ15N among amphipod taxa, indicating family-specific differences in feeding habits that generally agree with previous studies of amphipod diets. Hyalids fed almost exclusively on eelgrass, ischyrocerids and ampithoids tended to feed more on algae and eelgrass, respectively, and caprellids exhibited heterogeneous feeding on both algae and eelgrass. The relatively high δ15N value of oedicerotids suggested that this group was likely carnivorous. Our findings are in general agreement with previous descriptions of family-specific amphipod feeding behaviors, suggesting that stable isotopes are a useful tool for describing the functional roles of mesograzers in eelgrass ecosystems.

KEY WORDS: Functional diversity · Stable isotopes · Eelgrass food web · Amphipods · Amphipod feeding

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Cite this article as: Farlin JP, Lewis LS, Anderson TW, Lai CT (2010) Functional diversity in amphipods revealed by stable isotopes in an eelgrass ecosystem. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 420:277-281.

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