Trophic Relationships within a Subtropical Estuarine Food Web from the Southeast Gulf of California through Analysis of Stable Isotopes of Carbon and Nitrogen

  • Martín E. Jara-MariniEmail author
  • Federico Páez-Osuna
  • Martín F. Soto-Jiménez
Part of the Estuaries of the World book series (EOTW)


We identified the sources of carbon supporting an estuarine food web in the Southeast Gulf of California. The trophic food web in the Estero de Urías Lagoon (EUL) was studied through the carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the potential food sources (plankton, macroalgae, plants) and organisms including filter-feeding mollusks, crustaceans, fishes and seabirds. The isotopic composition of sediment suspended organic matter (SSOM) and suspended particulate organic matter (SPOM) showed that there are diverse organic matter sources in EUL. The greater inputs of mangrove to detritus were reflected in their similar δ13C values with respect to SSOM and SPOM. The δ13C data suggest a direct transfer of C from SSOM and zooplankton to filter-feeders organisms and to a lesser degree from SPOM and phytoplankton. The isotopic composition of the different groups of organisms showed the complexity of the food web. However, there was a continuous gradient of 15N-enrichment from SSOM and SPOM to seabird with intermediate values for filter-feeders and crustaceans. The δ15N values in the EUL food web were consistent with 5 trophic levels. Fishes were strongly dependent on macrobenthos and pelagic derived nutrition. Cormorants occupied the highest trophic level and its major diet contributors were fishes. The studied food web was not segregated by time because isotopic trends were similar between dry and wet seasons.


Coastal ecosystems Food sources C and N isotopes Trophic levels Gulf of California 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martín E. Jara-Marini
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Federico Páez-Osuna
    • 3
  • Martín F. Soto-Jiménez
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento de Ciencia de los AlimentosCentro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo A.C.HermosilloMéxico
  2. 2.Programa de Posgrado en Ciencias del Mar y LimnologíaInstituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Unidad Académica Mazatlán, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de, MéxicoMazatlánMéxico
  3. 3.Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y LimnologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMazatlánMéxico

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