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MEPS 542:13-24 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11571

Isotopic niche variability in macroconsumers of the East Scotia Ridge (Southern Ocean) hydrothermal vents: What more can we learn from an ellipse?

W. D. K. Reid1,*, C. J. Sweeting2, B. D. Wigham3, R. A. R. McGill4, N. V. C. Polunin5

1Ridley Building, School of Biology, Newcastle University, Newcastle, NE1 7RU, UK
2Marine Management Organisation, Lancaster House, Hampshire Court, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 7YH, UK
3Dove Marine Laboratory, School of Marine Science & Technology, Newcastle University, Cullercoats, NE30 4PZ, UK
4NERC Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry Facility, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, East Kilbride, G75 0QF, UK
5Ridley Building, School of Marine Science & Technology, Newcastle University, Newcastle, NE1 7RU, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Aspects of between-individual trophic niche width can be explored through the isotopic niche concept. In many cases isotopic variability can be influenced by the scale of sampling and biological characteristics including body size or sex. Sample size-corrected (SEAc) and Bayesian (SEAb) standard ellipse areas and generalised least squares (GLS) models were used to explore the spatial variability of δ13C and δ15N in Kiwa tyleri (decapod), Gigantopelta chessoia (peltospirid gastropod) and Vulcanolepas scotiaensis (stalked barnacle) collected from 3 hydrothermal vent field sites (E2, E9N and E9S) on the East Scotia Ridge (ESR), Southern Ocean. SEAb only revealed spatial differences in isotopic niche area in male K. tyleri. However, the parameters used to draw the SEAc, eccentricity (E) and angle of the major SEAc axis to the x-axis (θ), indicated spatial differences in the relationships between δ13C and δ15N in all 3 species. The GLS models indicated that there were spatial differences in isotope-length trends, which were related to E and θ of the SEAc. This indicated that E and θ were potentially driven by underlying trophic and biological processes that varied with body size. Examination of the isotopic niches using standard ellipse areas and their parameters in conjunction with length-based analyses provided a means by which a proportion of the isotopic variability within each species could be described. We suggest that the parameters E and θ offer additional ecological insight that has so far been overlooked in isotopic niche studies.


KEY WORDS: Trophic niche width · Carbon fixation · Size · Epibionts · Endosymbiosis


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Cite this article as: Reid WDK, Sweeting CJ, Wigham BD, McGill RAR, Polunin NVC (2016) Isotopic niche variability in macroconsumers of the East Scotia Ridge (Southern Ocean) hydrothermal vents: What more can we learn from an ellipse?. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 542:13-24. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11571

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