EPA Science Inventory

Assessing the trophic role and ecosystem impact of Gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus) with carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes

Citation:

Olsen, Z., R. Fulford, K. Dillon, AND W. Graham. Assessing the trophic role and ecosystem impact of Gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus) with carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes. MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES. Inter-Research, Luhe, Germany, 497:215-227, (2014).

Description:

Gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus) are an important component species of the coastal ecosystem and the target of the largest fishery by landings in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). As filter feeders, they forage on a variety of plankton and detritus and, by grazing plankton stocks, may provide an important regulatory ecosystem service by reducing organic material loadings. This study uses stable isotope ratio analysis to examine the spatial, temporal and ontogenetic dynamics of food selectivity and trophic role observed in Gulf menhaden. The most important dietary item for juvenile (<100 mm total length) fish was phytoplankton (74.0% dietary composition) while that of sub-adults (100-200 mm) and adults (>200 mm) was zooplankton (61.6% for sub-adults and 52.4% for adults). Juvenile fish also utilized detritus when present in the water column, and their diet was more varied between individuals than variability observed within sub-adult and adult age classes. In agreement with these findings, juveniles were found to occupy a trophic level about one step lower (2.65±0.31) than that of sub-adults (3.50±0.21) and adults (3.39±0.19). Spatial dietary variation was related to known ontogenetic habitat shifts (i.e., onshore to offshore stratification of size classes), while temporal variation was minimal especially in the larger size classes. Since the fishery largely targets age 1+ fish (sub-adults and adults), these results suggest that if overfishing occurs to the extent that it impacts recruitment, it may decrease the resiliency of the inshore GOM ecosystem to eutrophication by decreasing the abundance of juvenile fish seasonally present in this environment.

Purpose/Objective:

Characterize the trophic impact of gulf menhaden in the coastal ecosystem as an input for ecosystem based fishery management and community decision making.

URLs/Downloads:

http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps10519   Exit

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Start Date: 02/05/2014
Completion Date: 02/05/2014
Record Last Revised: 07/01/2014
Record Created: 02/05/2014
Record Released: 02/05/2014
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 268157

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

GULF ECOLOGY DIVISION