Trophic interactions of megafauna in the Mariana and Kermadec trenches inferred from stable isotope analysis

Tokuda, Andrew K.; Drazen, Jeffrey C.; Gerringer, Mackenzie E.; Popp, Brian N.; Grammatopoulou, Eleanna; Mayor, Daniel J. ORCID: 2020 Trophic interactions of megafauna in the Mariana and Kermadec trenches inferred from stable isotope analysis. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 164, 103360.

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Hadal trenches house distinct ecosystems but we know little about their sources of nutrition or trophic structures. We evaluated megafaunal food web structure and nutritional sources in the Kermadec and Mariana trenches using carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis (δ15N and δ13C values) of bulk tissues and proteinaceous individual amino acids (AAs). In the Kermadec Trench, bulk δ15N values ranged from 5.8‰ in trench sediment to 17.5‰ in tissues of the supergiant amphipod, Allicela gigantea. δ15N values of detritivores were much higher than those of sediments (by 7.5‰ more). The δ13C values ranged from −21.4‰ in sediments to −17.3‰ in the brittle star, Ophiolimna sp., and did not co-vary with δ15N values. In the Mariana Trench, only bait-attending fauna and surface sediments were available for analysis. Mariana Trench fishes, amphipods, and sediments had slightly lower δ15N values than those from the Kermadec Trench, possibly because the Mariana Trench lies under more oligotrophic surface waters. We found evidence for multiple food inputs to the system in each trench, namely substantially higher δ15N values in detritivores relative to sediment and high variability in δ13C values. Trophic levels determined from isotopic analysis of individual AAs in the Kermadec Trench ranged from three for detritivores to five for fishes. Source AA δ15N values were variable (range of ~7.0‰ in average δ15N source AA values), with much of this variation occurring in small amphipods. For the other fauna sampled, there was a significant increase in δ15N source AA values with increasing collection depth. This increase could reflect larger amounts of highly microbially reworked organic matter with increasing depth or sporadic input from turbidity flows. Although further sampling across a broader faunal diversity will be required to understand these food webs, our results provide new insights into hadal trophic interactions and suggest that trench food webs are very dynamic.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 09670637
Date made live: 18 Nov 2020 11:45 +0 (UTC)

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