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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps14036

Multi-proxy approach for studying the foraging habitat and trophic position of a migratory marine consumer in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean

Juliano L. Coletto*, Alexi C. Besser, Silvina Botta, Lauro A. S. P. Madureira, Seth D. Newsome

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Skipjack tuna Katsuwonus pelamis sustains the largest catches among tuna species. Despite its relevance for global food security and the tuna canning industry, information about its foraging ecology in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean (SWAO) is limited. We combined amino acid (AA) and bulk tissue nitrogen isotope (δ15N) with stomach content analysis (SCA) to study skipjack foraging habitat and trophic position (TP) in the SWAO. Mean (±SD) δ15N values of source AAs lysine (Lys: 6.5 ± 1.3‰) and phenylalanine (Phe: 10.6 ± 1.3‰) were higher at higher latitudes (30–34°S) of the southern area relative to the northern area between 20–26°S (Lys: 3.4 ± 1.1‰, Phe: 8.2 ± 1.2‰). Correlations between bulk tissue δ15N (δ15Nbulk) and source AA δ15N show that Lys is a more robust indicator of δ15N baseline variation in this region than Phe. Regional mixing models based on AA δ15N indicated spatial structure in the foraging habitat: smaller individuals use the southern area, and larger individuals forage at lower latitudes or in offshore areas. TP estimates using the trophic glutamic acid- (Glx)-source AAs pair Glx-Lys were in much better agreement with TPsca or estimates of TP based on bulk tissue analysis (TPbulk) than those based on Glx-Phe. Skipjack forages across multiple food webs throughout its lifecycle in the SWAO and increase its TP with ontogeny (TPGlx-Lys: 3.5–4.0). Stock management strategies should consider that the southern region supports dense aggregations of juvenile skipjack, which may be more vulnerable to non-selective fisheries.