MURAL - Maynooth University Research Archive Library

    Estimating contributions of pelagic and benthic pathways to consumer production in coupled marine food webs

    Duffill Telsnig, Jessica I. and Jennings, Simon and Mill, Aileen C. and Walker, Nicola D. and Parnell, Andrew and Polunin, Nicholas V.C. (2018) Estimating contributions of pelagic and benthic pathways to consumer production in coupled marine food webs. Journal of Animal Ecology, 88. pp. 405-415. ISSN 0021-8790

    Download (665kB) | Preview

    Share your research

    Twitter Facebook LinkedIn GooglePlus Email more...

    Add this article to your Mendeley library


    1. Pelagic and benthic systems usually interact, but their dynamics and production rates differ. Such differences influence the distribution, reproductive cycles, growth rates, stability and productivity of the consumers they support. Consumer preferences for, and dependence on, pelagic or benthic production are governed by the availability of these sources of production and consumer life history, distribution, habitat, behavioural ecology, ontogenetic stage and morphology. 2. Diet studies may demonstrate the extent to which consumers feed on prey in pelagic or benthic environments. But they do not discriminate benthic production directly supported by phytoplankton from benthic production recycled through detrital pathways. The former will track the dynamics of phytoplankton production more closely than the latter. 3. We develop and apply a new analytical method that uses carbon (C) and sulfur (S) natural abundance stable isotope data to assess the relative contribution of pelagic and benthic pathways to fish consumer production. 4. For 13 species of fish that dominate community biomass in the northern North Sea (estimated >90% of total biomass), relative modal use of pelagic pathways ranged from <25% to >85%. Use of both C and S isotopes as opposed to just C reduced uncertainty in relative modal use estimates. Temporal comparisons of relative modal use of pelagic and benthic pathways revealed similar ranking of species dependency over four years, but annual variation in relative modal use within species was typically 10-40%. 5. For the total fish consumer biomass in the study region, the C and S method linked approximately 70% and 30% of biomass to pelagic and benthic pathways respectively. As well as providing a new method to define consumers’ links to pelagic and benthic pathways our results demonstrate that a substantial proportion of fish biomass, and by inference production, in the northern North Sea is supported by production that has passed through transformations on the seabed.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This article has been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but has not been through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process, which may lead to differences between this version and the Version of Record. Please cite this article as doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12929 . The published version is available at: Duffill Telsnig, JI, Jennings, S, Mill, AC, Walker, ND, Parnell, AC, Polunin, NVC. Estimating contributions of pelagic and benthic pathways to consumer production in coupled marine food webs. J Anim Ecol. 2019; 88: 405– 415.
    Keywords: Bayesian mixing model; benthic-pelagic coupling; fish; food webs; marine ecosystems; stable isotope analysis;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Research Institutes > Hamilton Institute
    Item ID: 13274
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Andrew Parnell
    Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2020 14:40
    Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Animal Ecology
    Publisher: Wiley
    Refereed: Yes

    Repository Staff Only(login required)

    View Item Item control page


    Downloads per month over past year