Marine Biology

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 257–262 | Cite as

Food-Web structure and the fractionation of Carbon isotopes in the bering sea

  • T. McConnaughey
  • C. P. McRoy
Article

Abstract

13C undergoes modes biomagnification in the food web, apparently as a result of being respired at a slower specific rate than12C. The degree of13C enrichment at each “trophic level” is related to the fraction of assimilated carbon which is respired. Qualitative and semi-quantitative aspects of ecosystem carbon cycling can therefore be deduced from13C enrichments, provided that isotope enrichments arising from other causes are accounted for. Most important among these is lipid storage, which enriches animals in12C. This complication can be handled in various ways, here it was done by “normalizing”13C:12C ratios to a constant lipid content. Remaining variations in13C:12C ratio presumably result mainly from respiratory isotope fractionation. The Bering Sea ecosystem provided a test for this procedure. Our results illustrate certain aspects of food web structure and suggest varous functional aspects.

Literature Cited

  1. Degens, E.T., G. Gotthardt and E. Reppmann: Metabolic fractionation of carbon isotopes in marine plankton — II. Data on samples collected off the coasts of Peru and Ecuador. Deep-Sea Res.15, 11–20 (1968)Google Scholar
  2. DeNiro, M.J. and S. Epstein: Influence of diet on the distribution of carbon isotopes in animals. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta42, 495–506 (1978)Google Scholar
  3. Eadie, B.J.: Distribution and fractionation of stable carbon isotopes in the Antarctic ecosystem, 110 pp. Ph.D. dissertation, Texas A&M University, College Station 1972Google Scholar
  4. — and L.M. Jeffrey:13C analysis of oceanic particulate organic matter. Mar. Chem.1, 199–209 (1973)Google Scholar
  5. Fry, B.D.: Stable carbon isotope ratios — a tool for tracing food webs, 126 pp. M.A. thesis, University of Texas, Austin 1977Google Scholar
  6. Haines, E.B.: Relation between the stable carbon isotope composition of fiddler crabs, plants, and soils in a salt marsh. Limnol. Oceanogr.21, 880–882 (1976)Google Scholar
  7. Isaacs, J.D.: Unstructured marine food webs and “pollutant analogues”. Fish. Bull. U.S.70, 1053–1059 (1972)Google Scholar
  8. — Potential trophic biomasses and trace-substance concentrations in unstructured marine food-webs. Mar. Biol.22, 97–104 (1973)Google Scholar
  9. McConnaughey, T.: Ecosystems naturally labeled with carbon-13: applications to the study of consumer food webs, 127 pp. M.S. thesis, University of Alaska, Fairbanks 1978Google Scholar
  10. Mosora, F., M. Lacroix et J. Duchesne: Variations isotopiques13C/12C du CO2 respiratoire chez le rat, sous l'action d'hormones. C. r. hebd. Séanc. Acad. Sci., Paris273, 1752–1753 (1971)Google Scholar
  11. Parker, P.L., E.W. Behrens, J.A. Calder and D. Shultz: Stable carbon isotope ratio variations in the organic carbon from the Gulf of Mexico sediments. Contr. mar. Sci. Univ. Tex.16, 139–147 (1972)Google Scholar
  12. Rafter, T.A.: The dating of fossil man in Australia.In: Proceedings of Symposium on Hydrogeochemistry and Biogeochemistry. Vol. 1: Hydrogeochemistry, pp 306–336. Ed. by E. Ingerson. Washington, D.C.: Clarke Co. 1973Google Scholar
  13. Sackett, W.M., W.R. Eckelmann, M.L. Bender and A.W.H. Bé: Temperature dependence of carbon isotope composition in marine plankton and sediments. Sciences, N.Y.148, 235–237 (1965)Google Scholar
  14. Williams, P.M. and L.I. Gordon: Carbon-13: carbon-12 ratios in dissolved and particulate matter in the sea. Deep-Sea Res.17, 19–27 (1970)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. McConnaughey
    • 1
  • C. P. McRoy
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Marine ScienceUniversity of AlaskaFairbanksUSA
  2. 2.Oceanography DepartmentUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations