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MEPS 597:1-11 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12625

FEATURE ARTICLE
Reconstructing lifetime nitrogen baselines and trophic position of Cynoscion acoupa from δ15N values of amino acids in otoliths

Kim Vane1,*, Natalie J. Wallsgrove2, Werner Ekau1, Brian N. Popp2

1Ecology Department, Leibniz Centre of Tropical Marine Research, Bremen 28359, Germany
2Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Hawai’i, Honolulu, HI 98622, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Habitat connectivity and trophic shifts during the lifetime of an individual fish are important determinants of fish population growth and persistence, yet remain little understood for many species. We investigated whether insights into individual lifetime migration, trophic position (TP) and environmental nitrogen dynamics could be achieved using compound-specific nitrogen isotope analysis of otolith proteinogenic amino acids (AAs). By comparing acoupa weakfish Cynoscion acoupa otoliths and muscle tissue from the monsoonal Amazon area in Pará with otoliths from semi-arid Rio Grande do Norte (RGN), Brazil, this study illustrates estuarine to coastal shelf habitat use and trophic ecology during juvenile and adult stage growth. Muscle tissue and otoliths gave comparable TPs for both life stages, while weighted mean δ15N values of all source AAs differed between tissues. These differences reflected large seasonal and spatial changes in nitrogen biogeochemical cycles and anthropogenic nitrogen influences from the Amazon River onto the coastal shelf of Pará. AA δ15N values of fish otoliths from the Pará region indicated changes in TP and sources of nitrogen between life stages, whereas analysis of fish otoliths from the RGN region indicated similarities in individual TP and sources of nitrogen through ontogeny. However, in both areas, individual adult TP ranged between 3 and 4, whereas juvenile TP remained around 2.8 to 3.0 in Pará and RGN, respectively. Since otoliths preserve a record of baseline δ15N values over the lifetime of individual fish it may be possible to infer migration and TP across prehistoric ecosystems from AA isotopic analysis of ancient otoliths.


KEY WORDS: Otolith chemistry · Organic matrix · Brazil · Migration · Amazon · Trophic level


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Cite this article as: Vane K, Wallsgrove NJ, Ekau W, Popp BN (2018) Reconstructing lifetime nitrogen baselines and trophic position of Cynoscion acoupa from δ15N values of amino acids in otoliths. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 597:1-11. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12625

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