Trophic Structures of Two Contrasting Estuarine Ecosystems With and without a Dike on the Temperate Coast of Korea as Determined by Stable Isotopes

  • Hyun Je Park
  • Jung Hyun KwakEmail author
  • Young-Jae Lee
  • Hee Yoon Kang
  • Eun Jung Choy
  • Chang-Keun Kang
Special Issue: Climate Change and Anthropogenic Change around Korean Peninsula


To evaluate the modification of carbon flow in estuarine systems by a dike construction, we compared the trophic structures of the macrobenthic food webs in two contrasting estuaries, one with and one without a dike, on the western and southern coasts of Korea, by measuring the δ13C and δ15N values of subtidal macrobenthic consumers. The isotopic values of most organic matter sources were similar between the two estuaries, but there was a different pattern in the isotopic spatial variability between them. For the consumer δ13C values in the diked estuary, there were no significant spatial differences among sites and the isotopic niche widths were much narrower than those in the dike-free estuary. Moreover, the indices of community-wide metrics were smaller in the diked estuary than in the dike-free estuary. These results suggest a lower trophic diversity of macrobenthic consumers with their increased trophic redundancy in the diked estuary. These differences between the dike and dike-free estuaries might be explained by the decrease of benthic producers and then their lower food availabilities for consumers resulting from the presence of the dike. Our findings provide evidence that dike construction and subsequent alteration of hydrologic and circulation processes may lead to modification of the trophic structure of estuarine macrobenthic communities.


Trophic structure Stable isotopes Macrobenthos Dike Estuarine system Community-wide metrics 


Funding Information

This research was supported by “Long-term change of structure and function in marine ecosystems of Korea” funded by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Korea.

Supplementary material

12237_2019_522_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (504 kb)
Supplement Fig. 1 Dual isotope plots of the δ13C and δ15N values for macrobenthic consumers in the Yeongsan River Estuary (a, May and b, September) and Seomjin River Estuary (c, May and d, September) sites. Species colors indicate the macrobenthic consumers at each site in the YRE (black circles, Y1; gray circles, Y2; black triangles, Y3; gray triangles, Y4) and SRE (black circles, S1; gray circles, S2; black triangles, S3; gray triangles, S4). Values represent the mean δ13C and δ15N (% ± 1 SD). In (a) and (b), 1 represents Fulvia mutica; 2 Laternula sp.; 3 Moerella sp.; 4 Musculus senhousia; 5 Sinonovacula constricta; 6 Theora fragilis; 7 Gammaridian amphipod; 8 Leptochela gracilis; 9 Natatolana japonensis; 10 Bullacta exarata; 11 Crepidula onyx; 12 Hima sp.; 13 Protankyra bidentate; 14 Diopatra sugokai; 15 Glycera chirori; 16 Goniada japonica; 17 Heteromastus filiformis; 18 Lumbrineris longifolia; 19 Marphysa sanguinea; 20 Nephtys oligobranchia; 21 Nephtys sp.; 22 Scoloplos amiger; 23 Sternapsis scutata; 24 Tharyx sp. In (c) and (d), 1 represents Baner manilensis; 2 Corbicula japonica; 3 Cryptomya busoensis; 4 Limaria hakodatensis; 5 Mactra crossei; 6 Musculus senhausia; 7 Nitidotellina nitidula; 8 Periploma japonicum; 9 Raetellops pulchella; 10 Ruditapes variegatus; 11 Scintilla violescens; 12 Theora fragilis; 13 Alpheus digitalis; 14 Alpheus japonicus; 15 Callianassa japonica; 16 Crangon hakodatei; 17 Gammaridian amphipod; 18 Oratosquilla oratoria; 19 Raphidopus ciliates; 20 Tritodynamia horvathi; 21 Philine argentata; 22 Pristiterebra taylori; 23 Protankyra bidentata; 24 Amphiopius tricoides; 25 Amphioplus ancistrotus; 26 Amphioplus japonicus; 27 Amphipholis sobrina; 28 Ophiura kinbergi; 29 Ophiura sarsii; 30 Ammotrypane aulogaster; 31 Ampharete arctica; 32 Amphicteis gunneri; 33 Amphitrite oculata; 34 Anaitides maculata; 35 Aphrodita aculeata; 36 Capitella capitata; 37 Glycera chirori; 38 Goniada japonica; 39 Goniada maculata; 40 Halosydnopsis pilosa; 41 Magelona japonica; 42 Myxicola infundibulum; 43 Nephtys oligobranchia; 44 Nereis multignatha; 45 Nereis paxtonae; 46 Nereis surugaense; 47 Nicomacne minor; 48 Paraprionospio pinnata; 49 Phylo fimbriatus; 50 Pista cristata; 51 Polycirrus nervosus; 52 Praxillella affinis; 53 Praxillella pacifica; 54 Prionospio sp.; 55 Scoletoma longifolia; 56 Scoloplos armiger; 57 Sternaspis scutata; 58 Sthenolepis yhleni; 59 Terebella ehrenbergi. (PDF 503 kb)
12237_2019_522_MOESM2_ESM.docx (23 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 22 kb)


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine BioscienceGangneung-Wonju National UniversityGangneungRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.School of Earth Sciences & Environmental EngineeringGwangju Institute of Science and TechnologyGwangjuRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Korea Polar Research Institute, Korea Ocean Research and Development InstituteIncheonRepublic of Korea

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