Inter-Research > MEPS > v677 > p115-128  
MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

via Mailchimp

MEPS 677:115-128 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13855

Trophic structure and resource utilization of the coastal fish community in the western Wadden Sea: evidence from stable isotope data analysis

Suzanne S. H. Poiesz1,2,*, Johannes IJ. Witte1, Marcel T. J. van der Meer3, Henk W. van der Veer1, Karline E. R. Soetaert4

1NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Coastal Systems, PO Box 59, 1790 AB, Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
2Faculty of Science and Engineering, Groningen Institute of Evolutionary Life Sciences, University of Groningen, PO Box 11103, 9700 CC Groningen, The Netherlands
3NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Microbiology and Biogeochemistry, PO Box 59, 1790 AB, Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
4NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, PO Box 140, 4400 AC, Yerseke, The Netherlands
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We studied the trophic structure of the western Wadden Sea fish community through stable isotope analysis (δ13C and δ15N) of 1658 samples from 57 fish species collected between 2012 and 2016. Stable isotope values differed between species but did not vary between years or seasons, and only for some species with fish size. Stable isotope values were not different between immigrating (spring) and emigrating (autumn) fish, suggesting a similar trophic niche of the various fish species in the coastal zone and inside the Wadden Sea. For the majority of species, average δ13C values were within the range of -12 to -20.5‰, showing that both (marine) pelagic and benthic primary producers were at the base of the food web. Average δ15N values varied among species from 13-18‰, resulting in estimated trophic positions (TPs) of 2.1-5.5 with the majority between 2.2 and 3.5. Thick-lipped grey mullet Chelon labrosus, golden grey mullet C. aurata, greater pipefish Syngnathus acus and pilchard Sardina pilchardus had the lowest TP (2.2-2.4). Among the common species (>10 observations), the highest TP values (3.4-3.5) were found for twaite shad Alosa fallax, smelt Osmerus eperlanus, bull-rout Myoxocephalus scorpius, bass Dicentrarchus labrax and cod Gadus morhua. For all species, estimated TPs based on isotope values were lower than those based on stomach content composition (2.0-4.7), which could be explained by species-specific differences in trophic fractionation or by underestimation of the contribution of smaller prey species in the stomach content analysis. The trophic niche space of benthopelagic species was the smallest and overlapped with that of the pelagic and benthic species. In terms of area use, trophic niche space was smaller for juvenile marine migrant species (nursery-type species) and overlapped with that of the (near-)resident species and marine seasonal visitors. Potentially, trophic competition is highest for the functional group of benthopelagic species and the guild of juvenile marine migrant species (nursery-type species).


KEY WORDS: Coastal fish community · Wadden Sea · Stable isotopes · Trophic position · Trophic structure


Full text in pdf format
Supplementary material 
Cite this article as: Poiesz SSH, Witte JIJ, van der Meer MTJ, van der Veer HW, Soetaert KER (2021) Trophic structure and resource utilization of the coastal fish community in the western Wadden Sea: evidence from stable isotope data analysis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 677:115-128. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13855

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
Facebook - - linkedIn