Environmental perturbation effects on baseline delta N-15 values and zooplankton trophic flexibility in the southern California Current Ecosystem

TitleEnvironmental perturbation effects on baseline delta N-15 values and zooplankton trophic flexibility in the southern California Current Ecosystem
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsDecima M, Landry MR, Popp BN
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Volume58
Pagination624-634
Date Published2013/03
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0024-3590
Accession NumberWOS:000317954300016
Keywordsamino-acids; changes; coastal waters; copepod calanus-pacificus; el-nino; euphausia-pacifica; food-web; long-term; nitrogen isotopic composition; north pacific; phytoplankton
Abstract

Nitrogen isotopic compositions of zooplankton in the California Current Ecosystem (CCE) are known to vary over inter-annual scales of climate variability, but the extent to which those changes are driven by variations in baseline phytoplankton delta N-15 values vs. zooplankton trophic position (TP) is poorly resolved. We use field samples collected during a large natural environmental perturbation, the 1998-1999 alternation between El Nino and La Nina states, to test the ability of large dominant CCE zooplankton Euphausia pacifica and Calanus pacificus to alter their TPs in response to environmental variability. To distinguish trophic changes from variations of delta N-15 values at the base of the food web, the zooplankton were assayed by Compound Specific Isotope Analysis of Amino Acids (CSIA-AA). Linear mixed-effect models were developed to utilize data from all amino acids (AAs), providing greater statistical power than the typical CSIA-AA approach of using only phenylalanine and glutamic acid. We confirm a significant N-15 enrichment of similar to 2 parts per thousand at the base of the food web for all AAs and all zooplankton groups during the 1998 El Nino. This baseline enrichment in N-15 has been speculated to occur during El Nino events but never conclusively shown. We also demonstrate a significantly elevated TP, implying increased carnivory during 1998, for E. pacifica while C. pacificus did not alter their TP between years. Lastly, TPs calculated from the standard CSIA-AA equation with laboratory-derived constants gave unrealistically low estimates, suggesting an assessment of these variables in situ is needed for an accurate application in natural systems.

DOI10.4319/lo.2013.58.2.0624
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