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Stable isotope analysis challenges wasp-waist food web assumptions in an upwelling pelagic ecosystem
Madigan, D.J.; Carlisle, A.B.; Dewar, H.; Snodgrass, O.E.; Litvin, S.Y.; Micheli, F.; Block, B.A. (2012). Stable isotope analysis challenges wasp-waist food web assumptions in an upwelling pelagic ecosystem. NPG Scientific Reports 2(654): 10 pp. hdl.handle.net/10.1038/srep00654
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Food webs; Pelagic environment; Upwelling; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Madigan, D.J.
  • Carlisle, A.B.
  • Dewar, H.
  • Snodgrass, O.E.
  • Litvin, S.Y.
  • Micheli, F.
  • Block, B.A.

Abstract
    Eastern boundary currents are often described as ‘wasp-waist’ ecosystems in which one or few mid-level forage species support a high diversity of larger predators that are highly susceptible to fluctuations in prey biomass. The assumption of wasp-waist control has not been empirically tested in all such ecosystems. This study used stable isotope analysis to test the hypothesis of wasp-waist control in the southern California Current large marine ecosystem (CCLME). We analyzed prey and predator tissue for d13C and d15N and used Bayesian mixing models to provide estimates of CCLME trophic dynamics from 2007–2010. Our results show high omnivory, planktivory by some predators, and a higher degree of trophic connectivity than that suggested by the wasp-waist model. Based on this study period, wasp-waist models oversimplify trophic dynamics within the CCLME and potentially other upwelling, pelagic ecosystems. Higher trophic connectivity in the CCLME likely increases ecosystem stability and resilience to perturbations.

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