Knowledge of the trophic ecology of predators is key to understanding how they affect food web structure and ecosystem functioning. The harbour crab Liocarcinus depurator (L.) (Brachyura: Portunidae) is one of the most abundant decapod species in soft-bottom areas of the Mediterranean Sea and northeast Atlantic Ocean. It is both a common prey and predator of commercial and non-commercial marine species and its predation pressure appears to have little effect on the subtidal community assemblage. However, there are few studies of its diet and little is known about its role in mediating energy flows in marine ecosystems. In this study, carbon (d13C) and nitrogen (d15N) stable isotope analysis (SIA) and Bayesian analytical tools were used to characterise the trophic niche of L. depurator and to quantify the most important prey supporting this species under various environmental conditions. Specimens of L. depurator, their potential prey and basal resources were collected from two different subtidal areas of the Gulf of Gaeta, one affected by human activities (north side) and the other seasonally influenced by freshwater inputs originating from the River Garigliano (south side). While there were differences between the two sampling areas in terms of the abundance and d15N and d13C values of the macrobenthic prey community, no differences in the d15N values and trophic position of L. depurator were observed. Specifically, Bayesian mixing models showed Polychaeta Errantia as the main source of crab diets in both areas. The observed differences in the d13C values and the analysis of trophic pathways also indicate that the terrestrial organic matter originating from the discharge of the River Garigliano was integrated along the food web up to L. depurator. Although this species is usually considered an opportunistic feeder, it appears to be highly selective and its trophic habits did not influence food web topology, which in contrast was found to be strongly influenced by River Garigliano discharge.

Isotopic determination of the trophic ecology of a ubiquitous key species. The crab Liocarcinus depurator (Brachyura: Portunidae) / Careddu, Giulio; Calizza, Edoardo; Costantini, Maria Letizia; Rossi, Loreto. - In: ESTUARINE, COASTAL AND SHELF SCIENCE. - ISSN 0272-7714. - STAMPA. - 191:(2017), pp. 106-114. [10.1016/j.ecss.2017.04.013]

Isotopic determination of the trophic ecology of a ubiquitous key species. The crab Liocarcinus depurator (Brachyura: Portunidae)

CAREDDU, GIULIO;CALIZZA, EDOARDO;COSTANTINI, Maria Letizia
;
ROSSI, Loreto
2017

Abstract

Knowledge of the trophic ecology of predators is key to understanding how they affect food web structure and ecosystem functioning. The harbour crab Liocarcinus depurator (L.) (Brachyura: Portunidae) is one of the most abundant decapod species in soft-bottom areas of the Mediterranean Sea and northeast Atlantic Ocean. It is both a common prey and predator of commercial and non-commercial marine species and its predation pressure appears to have little effect on the subtidal community assemblage. However, there are few studies of its diet and little is known about its role in mediating energy flows in marine ecosystems. In this study, carbon (d13C) and nitrogen (d15N) stable isotope analysis (SIA) and Bayesian analytical tools were used to characterise the trophic niche of L. depurator and to quantify the most important prey supporting this species under various environmental conditions. Specimens of L. depurator, their potential prey and basal resources were collected from two different subtidal areas of the Gulf of Gaeta, one affected by human activities (north side) and the other seasonally influenced by freshwater inputs originating from the River Garigliano (south side). While there were differences between the two sampling areas in terms of the abundance and d15N and d13C values of the macrobenthic prey community, no differences in the d15N values and trophic position of L. depurator were observed. Specifically, Bayesian mixing models showed Polychaeta Errantia as the main source of crab diets in both areas. The observed differences in the d13C values and the analysis of trophic pathways also indicate that the terrestrial organic matter originating from the discharge of the River Garigliano was integrated along the food web up to L. depurator. Although this species is usually considered an opportunistic feeder, it appears to be highly selective and its trophic habits did not influence food web topology, which in contrast was found to be strongly influenced by River Garigliano discharge.
2017
coastal waters; food webs; trophic relationships; detritus feeders; stable isotopes; Tyrrhenian sea
01 Pubblicazione su rivista::01a Articolo in rivista
Isotopic determination of the trophic ecology of a ubiquitous key species. The crab Liocarcinus depurator (Brachyura: Portunidae) / Careddu, Giulio; Calizza, Edoardo; Costantini, Maria Letizia; Rossi, Loreto. - In: ESTUARINE, COASTAL AND SHELF SCIENCE. - ISSN 0272-7714. - STAMPA. - 191:(2017), pp. 106-114. [10.1016/j.ecss.2017.04.013]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/954426
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