, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 297-309

Integrating spatial and temporal variability into the analysis of fish food web linkages in Tijuana Estuary

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Our understanding of fish feeding interactions at Tijuana Estuary was improved by incorporating estimates of spatial and temporal variability into diet analyses. We examined the stomach contents of 7 dominant species (n=579 total fish) collected between 1994 and 1999. General feeding patterns pooled over time produced a basic food web consisting of 3 major trophic levels: (1) primary consumers (Atherinops affinis, Mugil cephalus) that ingested substantial amounts of plant material and detritus; (2) benthic carnivores (Clevelandia ios, Hypsopsetta guttulata, Gillichthys mirabilis, and Fundulus parvipinnis) that ingested high numbers of calanoid copepods and exotic amphipods (Grandidierella japonica); and (3) piscivores (Paralichthys californicus and Leptocottus armatus) that often preyed on smaller gobiids. Similarity-based groupings of individual species' diets were identified using nonmetric multidimensional scaling to characterize their variability within and between species, and in space and time. This allowed us identify major dietary shifts and recognize events (i.e., modified prey abundance during 1997–98 El Ni no floods) that likely caused these shifts.