Climate change is expected to drive shifts in abundance and distribution of marine forage fishes and possibly result in dietary overlap among sub-Arctic and Arctic species. Stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen (δ13C, δ15N) were used as a proxy of dietary niche breadth and overlap between co-occurring, immature capelin (Mallotus villosus) and polar cod (Boreogadus saida) collected in the western Canadian Arctic, Darnley Bay, NT, during August 2013. Stable isotope ratios were determined from muscle tissue to quantify the range of δ13C and δ15N, along with dietary niche breadth metrics (standard area ellipses and total area) and niche overlap between lipid-extracted and nonextracted muscle tissues of capelin and polar cod. Lipid extraction influenced the values of δ13C, δ15N, and C:N ratio in polar cod, but only δ13C in capelin tissue. Lipid extraction influenced the interpretation of dietary niche breadth and extent of overlap between co-occurring species, such that overlap of capelin within the niche of polar cod increased (from 53.0 to 89.7%) when lipids were extracted. We recommend the use of lipid extraction to standardize δ13C values when assessing dietary niches and extent of overlap between co-occurring fishes that differ in lipid content. Species-specific lipid normalization equations for δ13C ratios provided in this study can be used to correct δ13C ratios from nonextracted tissues of polar cod in future research. Overall, the high degree of dietary niche overlap between immature capelin and polar cod in the western Arctic suggests there is a high potential for competition between these fishes while immature.
Polar Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 17, 2017
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