, Volume 157, Issue 4, pp 653–659 | Cite as

Marine resource flows to terrestrial arthropod predators on a temperate island: the role of subsidies between systems of similar productivity

Community Ecology - Original Paper


Marine-terrestrial resource flows can subsidies recipient consumers at various trophic levels. Theory suggests that the importance of such spatial subsidies depends on the productivity gradient between adjacent systems; however, the empirical data required to test this assumption are scarce. Most studies of marine-terrestrial subsidies have been performed in arid coastal habitats of low productivity surrounded by productive ocean waters. We examined the importance of marine resource inputs for terrestrial consumers on a temperate, productive forest island surrounded by a marine system of similar productivity. The importance of marine resources for the dominant arthropod consumers was estimated using stable isotopes and linear mixing models. We compared isotopic signatures of spiders and ants captured along a gradient from shore to inland to estimate how far marine-derived energy penetrates the island. We evaluated the distribution of ground-dwelling arthropods using pitfall-trap transects extending from the supratidal-forest boundary to the middle of the island. The contribution of marine-derived energy assimilated by arthropod consumers differed both among taxa and location. Marine-derived resources contributed >80% to the assimilated C of intertidal spiders and 5–10% for spiders at the forest edge and further inland. Ants assimilated 20% of their C from marine-derived resources and this proportion was not affected by distance from shore. Spiders, ants, and all arthropods combined exhibited no spatial aggregation towards the shore. Our results indicate that on temperate islands marine-terrestrial subsidies might be predominantly an edge effect, confined to intertidal consumers. Mobile consumers that opportunistically forage in intertidal habitats play an important role in transferring marine-derived energy further inland. This suggests that the importance of the productivity gradient for spatial subsidies can be modified by the mobility traits of the recipient consumers and their degree of specialization on the interface habitat.


Allochthonous inputs Connectivity Functional traits Resource flux Stable isotopes 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, Catchment Science CentreUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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