EPA Science Inventory

The relative importance of mangroves and seagrass beds as feeding habitats for resident and transient fishes from Florida and Belize:: evidence from dietary and stable isotope analyses

Citation:

Vaslet, A., D. L. PHILLIPS, C. France, I. C. Feller, AND C. C. Baldwin. The relative importance of mangroves and seagrass beds as feeding habitats for resident and transient fishes from Florida and Belize:: evidence from dietary and stable isotope analyses. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL MARINE BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY. Elsevier Science Ltd, New York, NY, 434-435:81-93, (2012).

Description:

In the western Atlantic region, the contribution of mangrove food-sources to fish diets has been considered of more limited importance then previously expected due to their constant flooding and proximity to adjacent coastal habitats such as seagrass beds which provide potential food sources. To investigate the influence of mangrove habitat type on the relative contribution of mangrove and seagrass food sources in fish diets, four mangrove habitats adjacent to seagrass beds were studied in Florida and Belize using gut-contents and stable-isotope analyses: mangrove fringe forests, basin mangrove, mangrove ponds and overwash mangrove islets. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope compositions of 41 fishes and an array of potential primary (microphytobenthos, litter, seagrass leaves and their epiphytes, algae, plankton) and secondary (benthic invertebrates) prey were analysed with SIAR mixing models to examine food source contributions in fish diets relative to habitat type. In all study sites, δ13C values of mangrove prey were significantly depleted relative to those from seagrass beds, allowing stable isotopes to provide reliable insights about origins of fish food sources. In the Indian River Lagoon (IRL, Florida) basin mangroves, seagrass prey had more negative δ13C signatures than seagrass beds located along fringing mangroves of Florida Keys, suggesting that seagrass from the IRL incorporated dissolved inorganic carbon from mangroves. Contributions of mangrove and seagrass prey to fish diets were influenced by mangrove habitat type and fish residency status. Resident species significantly relied on mangrove prey, whereas only five transients foraged in mangroves. Most transient fishes occurring in basin and fringing mangroves actively foraged in nearby seagrass beds, thus reinforcing the limited role of mangroves as fish foraging habitat for transient species. However, a shift in fish diet was observed for transient species from mangrove ponds, in which they relied on mangrove prey. In overwash mangroves (Belize), the enriched carbon signatures of fishes and the generally higher contributions of seagrass prey to fish diets suggested that fishes derived most of their food from seagrass beds. This trend was particularly highlighted for juvenile reef fishes that shelter in mangroves but forage in nearby seagrass beds. These findings emphasized the importance of considering fish ecology (residency and life status) and mangrove habitat type when assessing the contribution of mangrove prey to fish food webs in the western Atlantic region.

Purpose/Objective:

In the western Atlantic region, the contribution of mangrove food-sources to fish diets has been considered of more limited importance then previously expected due to their constant flooding and proximity to adjacent coastal habitats such as seagrass beds which provide potential food sources.

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Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Start Date: 09/01/2012
Completion Date: 09/01/2012
Record Last Revised: 10/29/2012
Record Created: 01/26/2012
Record Released: 01/26/2012
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 240906

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS BRANCH