Seasonal Variation in Food Web Structure and Fish Community Composition in the East/Japan Sea

  • Tae Hee Park
  • Chung-Il Lee
  • Chang-Keun Kang
  • Jung Hyun Kwak
  • Sang Heon Lee
  • Hyun Je ParkEmail author
Special Issue: Climate Change and Anthropogenic Change around Korean Peninsula


The aim of this study was to assess the temporal variability in the trophic structure of a fish community and the trophic levels of dominant fish species off the eastern coast of Korea. We analyzed the community composition and the stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios (δ13C and δ15N) for fish species in Hupo coastal waters over four seasons. Fish assemblages were mainly dominated by resident benthic and benthopelagic fish. In contrast, there were low numbers of pelagic fish, including migrating and occasional species, which varied significantly by season. The fish assemblages generally had relatively wide ranges of δ13C and δ15N (− 21.1 to − 16.3‰ and 10.0 to 14.2‰, respectively), reflecting a clear distinction between resident (mostly benthic or benthopelagic) vs migratory (mostly pelagic) fish. Resident species showed no seasonal differences in their isotopic signatures, whereas pelagic species showed temporal variability in δ13C and δ15N values. The isotopic niche of fish assemblages showed distinctly different patterns between spring–summer and winter–fall with the seasonal changes in the fish community. These patterns might be associated with seasonal variation in the fish community caused by seasonal changes in environmental conditions (e.g., hydrographic parameters and food availability). Our results can offer baseline information/trophic data for ecosystem models that can be used to evaluate the effects of climate on marine ecosystems.


Fish community Trophic structure Stable isotopes Coastal ecosystems East Sea 



This research was supported by “Long-term change of structure and function in marine ecosystems of Korea” and “Walleye pollock stock management based on marine information and communication technology” funded by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Korea.


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© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine BioscienceGangneung-Wonju National UniversityGangneungRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.School of Earth Sciences & Environmental EngineeringGwangju Institute of Science and TechnologyGwangjuRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Department of OceanographyPusan National UniversityBusanRepublic of Korea

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