Trophic ecology of Angolan cold-water coral reefs (SE Atlantic) based on stable isotope analyses

Vinha, Beatriz; Rossi, Sergio; Gori, Andrea; Hanz, Ulrike; Pennetta, Antonio; De Benedetto, Giuseppe E.; Mienis, Furu; Huvenne, Veerle A. I. ORCID:; Hebbeln, Dierk; Wienberg, Claudia; Titschack, Jürgen; Freiwald, André; Piraino, Stefano; Orejas, Covadonga. 2023 Trophic ecology of Angolan cold-water coral reefs (SE Atlantic) based on stable isotope analyses. Scientific Reports, 13 (1).

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Cold-water coral (CWC) reefs of the Angolan margin (SE Atlantic) are dominated by Desmophyllum pertusum and support a diverse community of associated fauna, despite hypoxic conditions. In this study, we use carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analyses (δ13C and δ15N) to decipher the trophic network of this relatively unknown CWC province. Although fresh phytodetritus is available to the reef, δ15N signatures indicate that CWCs (12.90 ± 1.00 ‰) sit two trophic levels above Suspended Particulate Organic Matter (SPOM) (4.23 ± 1.64 ‰) suggesting that CWCs are highly reliant on an intermediate food source, which may be zooplankton. Echinoderms and the polychaete Eunice norvegica occupy the same trophic guild, with high δ13C signatures (-14.00 ± 1.08 ‰) pointing to a predatory feeding behavior on CWCs and sponges, although detrital feeding on 13C enriched particles might also be important for this group. Sponges presented the highest δ15N values (20.20 ± 1.87 ‰), which could be due to the role of the sponge holobiont and bacterial food in driving intense nitrogen cycling processes in sponges’ tissue, helping to cope with the hypoxic conditions of the reef. Our study provides first insights to understand trophic interactions of CWC reefs under low-oxygen conditions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date made live: 22 Jun 2023 13:07 +0 (UTC)

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