Scientia Marina, Vol 71, No 4 (2007)

The ecological role of overwintering fish in the food web of the Culbin Sands lagoon ecosystem, NE Scotland: Identifying major trophic links and testing effects of the fish Pomatoschistus microps (Pallas) on benthic invertebrates


https://doi.org/10.3989/scimar.2007.71n4649

Vanda Mariyam Mendonça
Marine Science and Fisheries Centre, Ministry of Fisheries, Portugal

Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR) / Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIMAR), University of Algarve

David Raffaelli
Department of Environment, University of York, United Kingdom

Peter Boyle
Department of Zoology, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Chas Emes
Biodiversity and Conservation Field Station, University of Aberdeen, Newburgh, United Kingdom

Abstract


The Culbin Sands lagoon ecosystem in NE Scotland was studied during a three-year period (1994-1996) to identify the major trophic links from benthic invertebrates to epibenthic predators, and to assess impacts of overwintering fish on their prey communities. Every 2-4 weeks, samples of mobile fauna were collected to study their diets. The major trophic links identified between benthic invertebrates and epibenthic predators were from benthic invertebrates to the shrimp Crangon crangon, and to the common goby Pomatoschistus microps and the plaice Pleuronectes platessa. The energy flow from benthic invertebrates to overwintering fish was estimated at 133 kJ m–2 yr–1. A flow of 10 kJ m–2 yr–1 was also observed from eggs and larval stages of the overwintering shrimp Crangon crangon to the overwintering fish. Nevertheless, manipulative field experiments showed no significant impacts of the most abundant overwintering fish Pomatoschistus microps on prey community densities, despite an overall individual ingestion rate of 89 J day–1.

Keywords


Pomatoschistus microps; Pleuronectes platessa; energy flow; predator impacts; Culbin Sands lagoon

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