Polar Biology

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 238–249 | Cite as

Food web structure in the high Arctic Canada Basin: evidence from δ13C and δ15N analysis

Original Paper

Abstract

The food-web structure of the Arctic deep Canada Basin was investigated in summer 2002 using carbon and nitrogen stable isotope tracers. Overall food-web length of the range of organisms sampled occupied four trophic levels, based on 3.8‰ trophic level enrichment (δ15N range: 5.3–17.7‰). It was, thus, 0.5–1 trophic levels longer than food webs in both Arctic shelf and temperate deep-sea systems. The food sources, pelagic particulate organic matter (POM) (δ13C=−25.8‰, δ15N=5.3‰) and ice POM (δ13C=−26.9‰, δ15N=4.1‰), were not significantly different. Organisms of all habitats, ice-associated, pelagic and benthic, covered a large range of δ15N values. In general, ice-associated crustaceans (δ15N range 4.6–12.4‰, mean 6.9‰) and pelagic species (δ15N range 5.9–16.5, mean 11.5‰) were depleted relative to benthic invertebrates (δ15N range 4.6–17.7‰, mean 13.2‰). The predominantly herbivorous and predatory sympagic and pelagic species constitute a shorter food chain that is based on fresh material produced in the water column. Many benthic invertebrates were deposit feeders, relying on largely refractory material. However, sufficient fresh phytodetritus appeared to arrive at the seafloor to support some benthic suspension and surface deposit feeders on a low trophic level (e.g., crinoids, cumaceans). The enriched signatures of benthic deposit feeders and predators may be a consequence of low primary production in the high Arctic and the subsequent high degree of reworking of organic material.

References

  1. Auel H, Werner I (2003) Feeding, respiration and life history of the hyperiid amphipod Themisto libellula in the Arctic marginal ice zone of the Greenland Sea. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 296:183–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baird BH, Nivens DE, Parker JH, White DC (1985) The biomass, community structure, and spatial distribution of the sedimentary microbiota from a high-energy area of the deep sea. Deep Sea Res 32A:1089–1099Google Scholar
  3. Bluhm BA, MacDonald IR, Debenham C, Iken K (2004) Macro- and megabenthos communities in the high Arctic Canada Basin and Northwind Ridge: initial findings. Polar BiolGoogle Scholar
  4. Borgå K, Poltermann M, Polder A, Pavlova O, Gulliksen B, Gabrielsen GW, Skaare JU (2002) Influence of diet and sea ice drift on organochlorine bioaccumulation in Arctic ice-associated amphipods. Environ Pollut 117:47–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clarke A (1998) Temperature and energetics: an introduction to cold ocean physiology. In: Pörtner HO, Playle RC (eds) Cold ocean physiology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 3–30Google Scholar
  6. Clough LM, Ambrose WG Jr, Cochran JK, Barnes C, Renaud PE, Aller RC (1998) Infaunal density, biomass and bioturbation in the sediments of the Arctic Ocean. Deep Sea Res II 4:1683–1704Google Scholar
  7. Comiso JC (2002) A rapidly declining perennial sea ice cover in the Arctic. Geophys Res Lett 29:17-1–17-4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cooper LW, Cota GF, Pomeroy LR, Grebmeier JM, Whitledge TE (1999) Modification of NO, PO, and NO/PO during flow across the Bering and Chukchi shelves: implications for use as Arctic water mass tracers. J Geophys Res 104:7827–7836CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dayton PK, Mordida BJ, Bacon F (1994) Polar marine communities. Am Zool 34:90–99Google Scholar
  10. DeNiro MJ, Epstein S (1981) Influence of diet on the distribution of nitrogen isotopes in animals. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 45:341–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dunton KH, Saupe SM, Golikov AN, Schell DM, Schonberg SV (1989) Trophic relationships and isotopic gradients among arctic and subarctic marine fauna. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 56:89–97Google Scholar
  12. Eiane K, Aksnes DL, Ohman MD, Wood S, Martinussen MB (2002) Stage-specific mortality of Calanus spp. under different predation regimes. Limnol Oceanogr 47:6636–6645Google Scholar
  13. Eilertsen HC, Tande KS, Taasen JP (1989) Vertical distribution and grazing by Calanus glacialis Jaschnov and Calanus hyperboreus Kroyer in Arctic waters (Barents Sea). Polar Biol 9: 253–260Google Scholar
  14. Falk-Petersen S, Sargent JR, Kwasniewski S, Gulliksen B, Millar RM (2001) Lipids and fatty acids in Clione limacina and Limacina helicina in Svalbard waters and the Arctic Ocean: trophic implications. Polar Biol 24:163–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fauchald K, Jumars PA (1979) The diet of worms: a study of polychaete feeding guilds. Oceanogr Mar Biol Annu Rev 17:193–284Google Scholar
  16. Fenchel T (1988) Marine planktonic food chains. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 19:19–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Froneman PW, Pakhomov EA (1998) Trophic importance of the chaetognaths Eukrohnia hamata and Sagitta gazellae in the pelagic system of the Prince William Islands (Southern Ocean). Polar Biol 19:242–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gage JD, Tyler PA (1991) Deep-Sea biology: a natural history of organisms at the deep-sea floor. University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  19. Gilmer RW, Harbison GR (1991) Diet of Limacina helicina (Gastropoda Thecosomata) in Arctic waters in midsummer. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 77:125–134Google Scholar
  20. Gosselin M, Levasseur M, Wheeler PA, Horner RA, Booth BC (1997) New measurements of phytoplankton and ice algal production in the Arctic Ocean. Deep Sea Res II 44:1623–1644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gradinger R (1999) Vertical fine structure of algal biomass and composition in Arctic pack ice. Mar Biol 133:745–754CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gradinger R (2002) Sea ice microorganisms. In: Bitten G (ed) Encyclopedia of environmental microbiology. Wiley, New York, pp 2833–2844Google Scholar
  23. Gradinger R, Meiners K, Plumley G, Zhang Q, Bluhm BA (2004) Abundance and composition of sea ice meiofauna in the deep Canada Basin in summer 2002 and 2003. Polar BiolGoogle Scholar
  24. Grebmeier JM, Barry JP (1991) The influence of oceanographic processes on pelagic-benthic coupling in polar regions: a benthic perspective. J Mar Syst 2:495–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grebmeier JM, McRoy CP (1989) Pelagic-benthic coupling on the shelf of the northern Bering and Chukchi Seas III. Benthic food supply and carbon cycling. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 53:79–91Google Scholar
  26. Grebmeier JM, Feder HM, McRoy CP (1989) Pelagic-benthic coupling on the shelf of the northern Bering and Chukchi Seas II. Benthic community structure. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 51:253–268Google Scholar
  27. Gudmundsson G, Engelstad K, Steiner G, Svavarsson J (2003) Diets of four deep-water scaphopod species (Mollusca) in the North Atlantic and the Nordic Seas. Mar Biol 142:1103–1112Google Scholar
  28. Hirche HJ, Hagen W, Munn N, Richter C (1994) The Northeast Water Polynya, Greenland Sea. 3. Mesozooplankton and macrozooplankton distribution and production of dominant herbivorous copepods during spring. Polar Biol 14:491–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hobson KA, Welch HE (1992) Determination of trophic relationships within a high Arctic marine food web using δ13C and δ15N analysis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 84:9–18Google Scholar
  30. Hobson KA, Ambrose WG Jr, Renaud PE (1995) Sources of primary production, benthic-pelagic coupling, and trophic relationships within the Northeast Water Polynya: insights from δ13C and δ15N analysis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 128:1–10Google Scholar
  31. Holte B, Gulliksen B (1998) Common macrofaunal dominant species in the sediments of some north Norwegian and Svalbard glacial fjords. Polar Biol 19:375–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hopcroft RR, Clarke C, Nelson J (2004) Zooplankton communities across the Arctic’s Canada Basin: the contribution by smaller taxa. Polar BiolGoogle Scholar
  33. Hunt GL, Stabeno P, Walters G, Sinclair E, Brodeur RD, Napp JM, Bond NA (2002) Climate change and control of the southeastern Bering Sea pelagic ecosystem. Deep Sea Res 49:5821–5853Google Scholar
  34. Iken K, Brey T, Wand U, Voigt J, Junghans P (2001) Food web structure of the benthic community at the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (NE Atlantic): a stable isotope analysis. Prog Oceanogr 50:383–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kennedy H, Thomas DN, Kattner G, Haas C, Dieckmann GS (2002) Particulate organic carbon in Antarctic summer sea ice: concentration and stable carbon isotopic composition. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 238:1–13Google Scholar
  36. Lampitt RS, Hillier WR, Challenor PG (1993) Seasonal and dial variation in the open ocean concentration of marine snow aggregates. Nature 362:737–739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lampitt RS, Bett BJ, Kiriakoulakis K, Popova EE, Ragueneau O, Vangriesheim A, Wolff GA (2001) Material supply to the abyssal seafloor in the Northeast Atlantic. Prog Oceanogr 50:27–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lee SH, Whitledge TE (2004) Recent nutrient and primary productivity relationships in the coastal and nearshore regions of the western Arctic. Polar BiolGoogle Scholar
  39. Macdonald RW, McLaughlin FA, Carmack EC (2002) Fresh water and its sources during the SHEBA drift in the Canada Basin of the Arctic Ocean. Deep Sea Res I 49:1769–1785CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mahaut ML, Geistdorfer P, Sibuet M (1990) Trophic strategies in carnivorous fishes: their significance in energy transfer in the deep-sea benthic ecosystem (Meriadzek Terrace—Bay of Biscay). Prog Oceanogr 24:223–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mako SA, Estep MLF (1984) Microbial alteration of stable nitrogen and carbon isotopic compositions of organic matter. Org Geochem 6:787–790CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McLaughlin F, Shimada K, Carmack E, Ito M, Nishino S (2004) The hydrography of the deep Canada Basin, 2002. Polar BiolGoogle Scholar
  43. Michener RH, Schell DM (1994) Stable isotope ratios as tracers in marine aquatic food webs. In: Lajtha K, Michener RH (eds) Stable isotopes in ecology and environmental science. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 138–157Google Scholar
  44. Naidu AS, Scalan RS, Feder HM, Goering JJ, Hameedi MJ, Parker PL, Behrens EW, Caughey ME, Jewett SC (1993) Stable organic carbon isotopes in sediments of the North Bering South Chukchi Seas, Alaskan Soviet Arctic Shelf. Cont Shelf Res 13:669–691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Naidu AS, Cooper LW, Finney BP, Macdonald RW, Alexander C, Semiletov IP (2000) Organic carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) of Arctic Amerasian continental shelf sediments. Int J Earth Sci 89:522–532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Parkinson CL, Cavalieri DJ, Gloersen P, Zwally HJ, Comiso JC (1999) Arctic sea ice extents, areas, and trends, 1978–1996. J Geophys Res 104:20837–20856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Piepenburg D, Ambrose WG Jr, Brandt A, Renaud PE, Ahrens MJ, Jensen P (1997) Benthic community patterns reflect water column processes in the Northeast Water polynya (Greenland). J Mar Syst 10:467–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Poltermann M (2001) Arctic sea ice as feeding ground for amphipods—food sources and strategies. Polar Biol 24:89–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pörtner HO, Playle RC (1998) Cold ocean physiology. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  50. Post DM (2002) Using stable isotopes to estimate trophic position: models, methods and assumptions. Ecology 83:703–718Google Scholar
  51. Rau GH (1982) The relationship between trophic level and stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen. In: Bascom W (ed) Coastal water research project biennial report for the years 1981–1982. South California Water Research Project, Long Beach, pp 143–148Google Scholar
  52. Rice AL, Lambshead PJD (1994) Patch dynamics in the deep-sea benthos: the role of a heterogeneous supply of organic matter. In: Giller PS, Hildrew AG, Raffaelli DG (eds) Aquatic ecology, scale, pattern and process. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 469–497Google Scholar
  53. Rice AL, Thurston MJH, Bett BJ (1994) The IOSDL DEEPSEAS program: introduction and photographic evidence for the presence and absence of a seasonal input of phytodetritus at contrasting abyssal sites in the northeastern Atlantic. Deep Sea Res 41:1305–1320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Runge JA, Therriault JC, Legendre L, Ingram RG, Demers S (1991) Coupling between ice microalgal productivity and the pelagic, metazoan food web in southeastern Hudson Bay—a synthesis of results. Polar Res 10:325–338Google Scholar
  55. Sato M, Sasaki H, Fukuchi M (2002) Stable isotope compositions of overwintering copepods in the arctic and subarctic waters and implications to the feeding history. J Mar Syst 38:165–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Saupe SM, Schell DM, Griffiths WB (1989) Carbon-isotope ratio gradients in western arctic zooplankton. Mar Biol 103:427–432Google Scholar
  57. Schell DM, Barnett BA, Vinette KA (1998) Carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios in zooplankton of the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 162:11–23Google Scholar
  58. Schell DM (2000) Declining carrying capacity in the Bering sea: isotopic evidence from whale baleen. Limnol Oceanogr 45:459–462Google Scholar
  59. Schubert CJ, Calvert SE (2001) Nitrogen and carbon isotopic composition of marine and terrestrial organic matter in Arctic Ocean sediments: implications for nutrient utilization and organic matter composition. Deep Sea Res I 48:789–810CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Scott CL, Falk-Petersen S, Gulliksen B, Lønne OJ, Sargent JR (2001) Lipid indicators of the diet of the sympagic amphipod Gammarus wilkitzkii in the marginal ice zone and in open waters of Svalbard (Arctic). Polar Biol 24:572–576CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Shimada K, Carmack EC, Hatakeyama K, Takizawa T (2001) Varieties of shallow temperature maximum waters in the Western Canadian Basin of the Arctic Ocean. Geophys Res Lett 28:3441–3444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Smith SL, Schnack-Schiel SB (1990) Polar zooplankton. In: Smith WO Jr (ed) Polar oceanography. Part B. Chemistry, biology and geology. Academic, San Diego, pp 527–598Google Scholar
  63. Stenseth NC, Ottersen G, Hurrell JW, Mysterud A, Lima M, Chan KS, Yoccoz NG, Adlandsvik B (2003) Studying climate effects on ecology through the use of climate indices: the North Atlantic Oscillation, El Niño Southern Oscillation and beyond. Proc R Soc Lond 270:2087–2096CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Swift JH, Jones EP, Aagaard K, Carmack EC, Hingston M, Macdonald RW, McLaughlin FA, Perkin RG (1997) Waters of the Makarov and Canada basins. Deep Sea Res II 44:1503–1529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Thistle D (2003) The deep-sea floor: an overview. In: Tyler PA (ed) Ecosystems of the world 28, ecosystems of the deep sea. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 5–37Google Scholar
  66. Thomas DN, Papadimitriou S (2003) Biogeochemistry of sea ice. In: Thomas DN, Dieckmann GS (eds) Sea ice. An introduction to its physics, chemistry, biology and geology. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 267–302Google Scholar
  67. Walsh JJ, McRoy CP, Coachman LK, Goering JJ, Nihoul JJ, Whitledge TE, Blackburn TH, Springer AM, Tripp RD, Hansell DA, Djenidi S, Deleersnijder E, Henriksen K, Lund BA, Andersen P, Muller-Karger FE, Dean KK (1989) Carbon and nitrogen cycling within the Bering/Chukchi Seas: source regions for organic matter effecting AOU demands of the Arctic Ocean. Prog Oceanogr 22:277–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Walsh JJ, Diederle DA, Maslowski W, Whitledge TE (2004) Decadal shifts in biophysical forcing of Arctic marine food webs: numerical consequences. J Geophys Res 109:C05031Google Scholar
  69. Weingartner TJ, Cavalieri DJ, Aagaard K, Sasaki Y (1998) Circulation, dense water formation, and outflow on the northeast Chukchi shelf. J Geophys Res 103:7647–7661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Werner I (1997) Grazing of Arctic under-ice amphipods on sea-ice algae. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 160:93–99Google Scholar
  71. Werner I, Auel H, Friedrich C (2002) Carnivorous feeding and respiration of the Arctic under-ice amphipod Gammarus wilkitzkii. Polar Biol 25:523–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wheeler PA, Gosselin M, Sherr E, Thibault D, Kirchman DL, Benner R, Whitledge TE (1996) Active cycling of organic carbon in the central Arctic Ocean. Nature 380:697–699CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Marine Science, School of Fisheries and Ocean SciencesUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA

Personalised recommendations