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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 446 - Feature article
The diversity of benthic primary producers poses a challenge for identifying the diets of invertebrate grazers using fatty acid analysis. Image: Robert Scheibling

Kelly JR, Scheibling RE


Fatty acids as dietary tracers in benthic food webs


Fatty acid (FA) analysis is a well-established tool for studying trophic interactions in pelagic systems and identifying diets of large predators. Kelly & Scheibling review the application of FA analysis in benthic food webs, highlighting the challenges posed by the highly mixed diets and biosynthetic capabilities of benthic invertebrates. Field studies that use tracer FAs validated in the laboratory are rare but important in that they distinguish useful tracer FAs from those affected by consumer metabolism. Combining FA analysis with other lines of evidence, such as stable isotope analysis, offers a more reliable approach to examining trophic interactions in benthic systems.


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