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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 513:269-275 (2014)  -  DOI:

Importance of ice algal production for top predators: new insights using sea-ice biomarkers

A. Goutte1,2,*, J.-B. Charrassin1, Y. Cherel2, A. Carravieri2, S. De Grissac2, G. Massé1,3

1LOCEAN/IPSL — UMR 7159 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Université Pierre et Marie Curie/ Institut de Recherche pour le Développement/Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 75005 Paris, France
2Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UPR 1934, 79360 Beauvoir sur Niort, France
3Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Université Laval, UMI 3376, Takuvik, Québec G1V 0A6, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Antarctic seals and seabirds are strongly dependent on sea-ice cover to complete their life history. In polar ecosystems, sea ice provides a habitat for ice-associated diatoms that ensures a substantial production of organic matter. Recent studies have presented the potential of highly branched isoprenoids (HBIs) for tracing carbon flows from ice algae to higher-trophic-level organisms. However, to our knowledge, this new method has never been applied to sub-Antarctic species and Antarctic seals. Moreover, seasonal variations in HBI levels have never been investigated in Antarctic predators, despite a likely shift in food source from ice-derived to pelagic organic matter after sea-ice retreat. In the present study, we described HBI levels in a community of seabirds and seals breeding in Adélie Land, Antarctica. We then validated that sub-Antarctic seabirds had lower levels of diene, a HBI of sea-ice diatom origin, and higher levels of triene, a HBI of phytoplanktonic origin, compared with Antarctic seabirds. Finally, we explored temporal changes in HBI levels after the ice break up in summer. The level of diene relative to triene in Adélie penguin chicks increased and then declined during the breeding season, which was consistent with the short and intense proliferation of sea-ice algae in spring, followed by the pelagic phytoplankton bloom in summer. HBI biomarkers in Antarctic seabirds and seals thus indicate a shift from ice-algal derived organic matter to a pelagic carbon source during the summer breeding season.

KEY WORDS: Ice proxy · Penguin · Petrel · Pinniped · Southern Ocean

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Cite this article as: Goutte A, Charrassin JB, Cherel Y, Carravieri A, De Grissac S, Massé G (2014) Importance of ice algal production for top predators: new insights using sea-ice biomarkers. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 513:269-275.

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