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Diet and resource use among Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) and teleosts sampled in Icelandic waters, using 13C, 15N, and mercury

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Stable carbon (13C) and nitrogen (15N) isotopes and total mercury (Hg) were used to investigate diet and resource use among Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) and 14 teleosts inhabiting Icelandic waters. Greenland shark stomachs contained 11 of the teleosts sampled, along with other fishes and marine mammal tissues. Teleost resource use ranged from pelagic (e.g., Argentina silus) to benthic (e.g., Anarhichas lupus) based on 13C, and relative trophic positions (TP, based on 15N) ranged from 3.0 (Mallotus villosus) to 3.8 (e.g., Brosme brosme). Greenland shark 13C indicated feeding on benthic and pelagic resources, with a high input of pelagic carbon, and 15N indicated a relative TP of 4.3. Log[Hg] increased with 15N (i.e., TP) from teleosts to Greenland sharks and was higher in offshore vs. inshore teleosts. Linear regressions revealed that log[Hg] was better described by both 15N and 13C-assigned resource use than by 15N alone. Hg was useful for supporting the TPs suggested by 15N, and the higher Hg in offshore fishes could help explain the high Hg of Greenland sharks. Results from this study demonstrated the potential use of Hg as a dietary tracer in marine fishes.

Les isotopes stables de carbone (13C) et d’azote (15N) et le mercure total (Hg) nous ont servi à étudier le régime alimentaire et l’utilisation des ressources chez la laimargue atlantique (Somniosus microcephalus) et 14 téléostéens habitant les eaux islandaises. Les estomacs de laimargues atlantiques contenaient 11 des téléostéens échantillonnés, ainsi que des tissus d’autres poissons et de mammifères marins. L’utilisation de la ressource de téléostéens comprenait des poissons de pélagiques (par ex., Argentina silus) à benthiques (par ex., Anarhichas lupus) d’après 13C et leurs positions trophiques relatives (TP, basée sur 15N) variaient de 3,0 (Mallotus villosus) à 3,8 (par ex., Brosme brosme). Le 13C des laimargues atlantiques indique qu’elles se nourrissent de ressources benthiques et pélagiques, avec un apport élevé de carbone pélagique et leur 15N indique une TP relative de 4,3. Log[Hg] augmente en fonction de 15N (c’est-à-dire la TP) des téléostéens aux laimargues atlantiques et est plus élevé chez les téléostéens du large que chez ceux de la côte. Des régressions linéaires montrent que log[Hg] est mieux décrit par l’utilisation des ressources assignées à la fois par 15N et 13C que par 15N seul. Le Hg est utile pour appuyer les TP indiquées par 15N et les concentrations plus élevées de Hg dans les poissons du large pourraient aider à expliquer les fortes concentrations de Hg dans les laimargues atlantiques. Les résultats de notre étude démontrent l’utilité potentielle de Hg comme traceur alimentaire chez les poissons marins.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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