Species interactions and energy transfer in aquatic food webs
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Food webs are structured by intricate nodes of species interactions which govern the flow of organic matter in natural systems. Despite being long recognized as a key component in ecology, estimation of food web functioning is still challenging due to the difficulty in accurately measuring species interactions within a food web. Novel tracing methods that estimate species diet uptake and trophic position are therefore needed for assessing food web dynamics.
The focus of this thesis is the use of compound specific nitrogen and carbon stable isotopes and molecular techniques for assessing predator-prey interactions and energy flow in natural aquatic ecosystems, with a particular focus on the species links between phytoplankton and zooplankton.
The use of δ15N amino acid values to predict organism trophic position are evaluated through a meta-analysis of available literature which included measurements from 359 marine species (article I). Through a controlled feeding study isotope incorporation in aquatic organisms, across both plant-animal and animal-animal species linkages is further assessed (article II).
These studies showed that δ15N amino acid values are useful tools for categorizing animal trophic position. Organism feeding ecology influenced nitrogen trophic discrimination (difference in isotope ratio between consumer and diet), with higher discrimination in herbivores compared to omnivores and carnivores (article I). Nitrogen isotope trophic discrimination also varied among feeding treatments in the laboratory study (article II). The combined findings from articles I & II suggest that researchers should consider using group specific nitrogen trophic discrimination values to improve accuracy in species trophic position predictions.
Another key finding in the controlled laboratory study (article II) was consistently low carbon isotope discrimination in essential amino acids across all species linkages, confirming that these compounds are reliable dietary tracers.
The δ13C ratios of essential amino acids were applied to study seasonal dynamics in zooplankton resource use in the Baltic Sea (article III). Data from this study indicated that zooplankton assimilate variable resources throughout the growing season. Molecular diet analysis (article IV) showed that marine copepod and cladoceran species ingested both autotrophic and heterotrophic resources.
Evidence from both articles III & IV also revealed that zooplankton feed on a relatively broad range of diet items but not opportunistically on all available food sources. Mesozooplankton feeding patterns suggested that energy and nutritional flows were channelled through an omnivorous zooplankton food web including microzooplankton prey items. Overall the results of this thesis highlight that stable isotope ratios in specific compounds and molecular techniques are useful tracing approaches that improve our understanding of food web functioning.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University , 2015. , 40 p.
Aquatic food webs, zooplankton, stable isotope analysis amino acids, molecular diet analysis
Research subject Marine Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-123600ISBN: 978-91-7649-316-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-123600DiVA: diva2:875089
2016-01-26, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Brett, Michael T., Professor
Winder, Monika, Senior lecturersHansson, Sture, Professor
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.
List of papers