The cardinal tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi) is the most abundant species of the Brazilian ornamental fish trade, constituting more than 80% of the ornamental fish collected in the middle Negro River basin. Stable isotope analyses were used to identify the autotrophic carbon sources and trophic position for the cardinal in relation to the plant groups at the base of its foodchain. Filamentous algae, tree and plant leaves and cardinals were collected in stream habitats, flooded forest and interfluvial swamps (campos) during peak flood, falling water and low water periods. δ15N values of the cardinal in relation to the plants at the base of the food chain indicated a trophic position of omnivore. Values of δ13C for the plants ranged from −43.1 to −26.4‰, with averages of −37.6, −30.4, and −29.4‰ for filamentous algae, flooded forest leaves, and campo leaves, respectively. The δ13C values for the cardinal ranged from −35.0 to −27.9‰, with an average of −31.4‰. Relative contributions of plants to fish carbon were estimated in a two end-member mixing model which determined that the leaves (flooded forest and campo leaves combined) and filamentous algae had average relative contributions to cardinal carbon of 71% and 29%, respectively. However, seasonal variation in the relative contributions was encountered throughout the hydrological cycle. The cardinals least enriched in 13C were encountered in November during the falling water period, indicating that they had perhaps recently migrated down from interfluvial campos where filamentous algae production is significant. Considering that algal production has been reported to be less than 1% of total primary production in the Negro River, these results could suggest some evidence of selective herbivory in the cardinal’s food chain.
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We thank R. Peleja, C. Pinheiro, A. Carneiro and C.M. Silva for help in sample collection, Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura (CENA) for isotopic analysis, Warley Arruda for technical support, and INPA (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia), Phil and Ruth Marsteller (Amazon Tours), N.L. Chao (Projeto Piaba) and Dr. John Melack (UCSB) for financial and logistical support. Thanks are also due to IBAMA (Brazil) for conceding the research permits (permit#s 46.6098/2001-4 and 02005.001273/03, with extension received in 05/2004). This work was supported by Project PRONEX, Project LBA/NASA and CNPq.
Handling editor: J. M. Melack
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Marshall, B.G., Forsberg, B.R. & Thomé-Souza, M.J.F. Autotrophic energy sources for Paracheirodon axelrodi (Osteichthyes, Characidae) in the middle Negro River, Central Amazon, Brazil. Hydrobiologia 596, 95–103 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-007-9060-y
- Negro River
- Cardinal tetra
- Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes
- Autotrophic energy sources
- Filamentous algae
- Interfluvial swamps