Variations in the Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Composition of the Crabs Chionoecetes opilio (Fabricius, 1788) and Hyas coarctatus Leach, 1816 (Crustacea: Decapoda) from the Chukchi Sea
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Some regions of the Chukchi Sea shelf are characterized by an unusually high abundance of the benthos. The carbon and nitrogen isotope composition (δ13C and δ15N) of two crab species, Chionoecetes opilio and Hyas coarctatus, which occupy the upper trophic levels in bottom communities in the southern regions influenced by the Anadyr Water (AW) and in the regions exposed to the influence of the Siberian Coastal Current (SCC), was analyzed in order to compare between the trophic characteristics of their benthic communities. It has been found that these two species have similar spatial trends of stable isotope signature variations. As the effect of the productive AW on bottom communities decreases, a substantial depletion of δ13C with a simultaneous growth of δ15N values are observed in crab tissues. The trophic niches of C. opilio and H. coarctatus, which are represented by “isotope” niches as standard ellipse areas in the δ13C/δ15N biplot, significantly overlap in communities of the southern part of the shelf and become completely separated in those of the regions influenced by the SCC. The separation of the isotope niches of C. opilio and H. coarctatus and the simultaneous increase in δ15N values in both species by more than 3‰ indicate partitioning of the trophic resources between them and elongation of the food chains of both these carnivorous generalists by almost one trophic level in the communities that exist under the influence of less productive waters.
Keywordsfood chains Chukchi Sea benthos communities stable isotopes trophic niches
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