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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 479 - Feature article
The talitrid amphipod Bellorchestia quoyana feeds on beach-stranded kelps and seaweeds. Photo: ©Rod Morris,

McLeod RJ, Hyndes GA, Hurd CL, Frew RD


Unexpected shifts in fatty acid composition in response to diet in a common littoral amphipod


Fatty acids (FA) are increasingly being used as dietary biomarkers in benthic food webs; however, the experimental basis supporting this approach is limited. McLeod and colleagues fed a common sandhopper specific seaweed diets with contrasting FA profiles, and used a 13C label to follow the assimilation of carbon. The relationship between the FA compositions of the seaweeds and sandhoppers was not consistent, and the turnover rate of sandhopper FA varied among diet treatments. The findings suggest that the relationship between diet and consumer FA composition is complex, as a consumer’s FA are influenced by a range of factors. The authors caution that the application of FA as a dietary biomarker tool must be accompanied by controlled experiments.


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