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Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 1571–1582 | Cite as

Trophic Impacts of Marine Mammals and Seabirds in the Río de la Plata Estuary and the Nearshore Oceanic Ecosystem

  • Leandro BergaminoEmail author
  • Diana Szteren
  • Diego Lercari
Article

Abstract

As top predators, marine mammals and seabirds play an important role in structuring marine ecosystems, and their trophic role have become a major issue. In this study, we quantify the trophic impact of marine mammals and seabirds in the Río de la Plata estuary based on a previous trophic mass balance model of this estuary. The model comprised 37 functional groups: 3 species of marine mammals (2 cetaceans: Tursiops truncatus, Pontoporia blainvillei and 1 pinniped: Otaria flavescens), 1 coastal bird group comprising 11 species, 17 fish, 12 invertebrates, 2 zooplanktons, 1 phytoplankton, detritus, and 5 fishing fleets. Model results showed that seabirds, O. flavescens and P. blainvillei, are apex predators, with high levels of niche overlap among them, suggesting competition for similar resources such as fish species. Marine mammals and seabirds produce negative effects on commercially important species, while, at the same time, indirect positive effects (increase of the biomass) were also detected in some groups related to trophic cascade effects.

Keywords

Ecopath Seabirds Pontoporia blainvillei Otaria flavescens Tursiops truncatus Río de la Plata Uruguay 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank all the people that contributed with useful information for the implementation of the ecosystem model for the Río de la Plata. Support from projects PDT 7107 and DINARA/FAO/GEF (ID 3410) is also acknowledged. We are grateful to the Uruguayan National Aquatic Resources Office (DINARA, Uruguay) for providing useful information. We thank Kjetil Torp and the anonymous referees whose comments have greatly improved the quality of this work. We also extend our appreciation to the Associate Editor Karin Limburg for the careful revision and language editing.

Supplementary material

12237_2012_9545_MOESM1_ESM.xls (93 kb)
ESM 1 (XLS 93 kb)

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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leandro Bergamino
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Diana Szteren
    • 3
  • Diego Lercari
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología y Evolución—UNDECIMAR, Facultad de CienciasMontevideoUruguay
  2. 2.Department of Zoology and EntomologyRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Departamento de Ecología y Evolución, Facultad de CienciasMontevideoUruguay

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