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Coastal niches for terrestrial predators: a stable isotope study

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The purpose of this study was to identify the use of marine versus terrestrial food items by terrestrial arthropod predators on Baltic Sea shores. The inflow of marine nutrients in the area consists mainly of marine algal detritus and emerging aquatic insects (e.g., chironomids). Diets of coastal arthropods were examined using carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis in a two source mixing model. The results suggest that spiders are the terrestrial predators mainly utilizing nutrients and energy of marine origin on Baltic Sea shores, whereas insect predators such as beetles and heteropterans mainly utilize nutrients and energy derived from terrestrial sources, possibly owing to differences in hunting behaviour. That spiders are the predators which benefit the most from the marine inflow suggest that eventual effects of marine subsidies for the coastal ecosystem as a whole are likely mediated by spiders.

L’objectif de notre étude est de déterminer l’utilisation relative des sources alimentaires marines et terrestres par les arthropodes terrestres prédateurs sur les côtes de la Baltique. L’apport de nutriments marins dans la région consiste en des débris d’algues marines et d’insectes aquatiques (par ex., des chironomides) qui émergent. Nous examinons les régimes alimentaires d’arthropodes côtiers à l’aide d’une analyse des isotopes stables de carbone et d’azote dans un modèle de mélange à deux sources. Nos résultats indiquent que les araignées sont des prédateurs terrestres qui utilisent surtout des nutriments et de l’énergie d’origine marine sur les côtes de la Baltique, alors que les insectes prédateurs, tels que les coléoptères et les hétéroptères, utilisent surtout des nutriments et de l’énergie provenant des sources terrestres, peut-être à cause de différences dans leurs comportements de chasse. Le fait que les araignées soient les prédateurs qui bénéficient le plus des apports marins indique que les effets éventuels des apports marins sur l’écosystème côtier dans son ensemble se font vraisemblablement par l’intermédiaire des araignées.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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