Preliminary examination of food web structure of Nicola Lake (Taim Hydrological System, south Brazil) using dual C and N stable isotope analyses
Taim Ecological Reserve is located within the Taim Hydrological System and was created to protect a heterogeneous and productive landscape harboring exceptional biological diversity in southern Brazil. Using stable isotope ratio analyses of carbon (delta13C) and nitrogen (delta15N), we provide a preliminary description of the food web structure, including estimates of production sources supporting fish populations and vertical trophic structure, within a representative lake of this system. A
... f this system. A total of 21 organisms (5 macrophytes, 3 mollusks and 13 adult fishes) representing 16 species were collected for isotope analysis. Fishes had delta13C values ranging from -24.30º/oo to -28.31º/oo , showing concordance with the range of values observed for macrophytes (-25.49 to -27.10º/oo), and suggesting that these plants could be a major carbon source supporting these fishes. delta13C signatures of Corbicula (-30.81º/oo) and Pomacea (-24.26º/oo) indirectly suggest that phytoplankton and benthic algae could be alternative carbon sources for some consumers. Nitrogen isotope ratios indicated approximately three consumer trophic levels. The pearl cichlid Geophagus brasiliensis was a primary consumer. Two catfishes (Trachelyopterus lucenai and Loricariichthys anus) were secondary consumers. Two congeneric pike cichclids (Crenicichla lepidota and C. punctata), a catfish (Pimelodus maculatus) and the characids Astyanax fasciatus and Oligosarcus robustus were tertiary consumers. Further studies including additional primary producers and consumers and greater sample numbers should be conducted to provide a more complete and detailed description of food web structure and dynamics within the reserve.