MEPS 505:95-105 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10797

Temporal variation in stable isotope composition (δ13C, δ15N and δ34S) of a temperate Zostera marina food web

Agnes Mittermayr1,*, Sophia E. Fox2, Ulrich Sommer

1Helmholtz-Centre for Ocean Research (GEOMAR), Düsternbooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
2Cape Cod National Seashore, 99 Marconi Site Road, Wellfleet, Massachusetts 02667, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Simultaneous triple stable isotope analysis of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur was employed to study the temporal variation in the food web of a subtidal eelgrass Zostera marina bed in the western Baltic Sea. Samples of 3 potential food sources (eelgrass, epiphytes and seston) and consumer species were collected biweekly from March through September 2011. Temporal variation of stable isotope compositions was observed in primary producers and consumer species. However, variation between replicates, particularly omnivores, often exceeded variation over time. The high degree of omnivory among the generalist feeders in this eelgrass community allows for generalist feeders to flexibly switch food sources, thus enhancing food-web stability. As coastal systems are subject to seasonal changes, as well as alterations related to human disturbance and climate, these food webs may retain a certain resilience due to their plentiful omnivores. 


KEY WORDS: Trophic level · Eelgrass · Consumer · Primary producer · Baltic Sea


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Cite this article as: Mittermayr A, Fox SE, Sommer U (2014) Temporal variation in stable isotope composition (δ13C, δ15N and δ34S) of a temperate Zostera marina food web. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 505:95-105. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10797

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