, Volume 157, Issue 2, pp 237-247
Date: 17 Oct 2009

Trophic diversity of idoteids (Crustacea, Isopoda) inhabiting the Posidonia oceanica litter

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The coexistence of three idoteid species in Posidonia oceanica litter raises the question of trophic diversity and their role in the litter degradation process. Hence, diet composition of Idotea balthica, Idotea hectica and Cleantis prismatica was studied using a combination of gut contents and stable isotopes analysis. Gut content observations indicate that P. oceanica dead leaves are an important part of the ingested food for the three species, although their tissues are constituted of only a small to medium fraction of P. oceanica carbon. Our results also underlined the potential role of these species in the degradation of P. oceanica litter by mechanically fragmenting the litter and by assimilating a small to medium fraction of carbon. Moreover, we showed that there were considerable inter- and intra-specific differences in diet composition. Diet differed between juveniles and adults for I. balthica. Crustaceans are an important food source for adults of I. balthica, while I. hectica indicated a major contribution of algal material. C. prismatica showed an intermediate diet. This trophic diversity is probably one of the factors allowing these species to coexist in the same biotope.

Communicated by U. Sommer.