Characterizing the diet and habitat niches of coastal fish populations in the Beaufort Sea Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area

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2016-09, 2016
Brewster, Jasmine Dawn
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Marine Ecological Progress Series
Fisheries and Oceans, Canada
To evaluate the niche of coastal fish populations in the Beaufort Sea, stable isotopes (SI) and fatty acids (FA) were used to characterize species-specific niches, niche overlaps and resource partitioning (nicheROVER) of the Shingle Point fish populations. Fishes were grouped into three isotopic groups: marine, coastal, and freshwater (Ward’s clustering analysis), and five dietary groupings (using FA), where benthic feeding strategies were prevalent (correspondence analysis). Niche metrics were used to evaluate if total mercury (THg) could contribute complementary trophic information (residual permutation procedure (RPP)). Three THg groups (high, intermediate, low) were identified (boxplot analysis). High THg was identified in high trophic and benthic feeders, high THg ranges were observed in species with large niche sizes, high trophic feeding, and freshwater influences (RPP). The bioavailability of freshwater introduced THg to marine biota was assessed, however further research needs to be performed. Combining dietary indicators SI, FA, and THg, allowed for the characterization of the diet and habitat use of coastal fish populations, better understanding of the niches of these species, and developed baseline information for future monitoring in an MPA, as climate change continues to effect the Beaufort coastal environment.
Niche, Stable isotopes, Fatty acids, Mercury, Marine protected areas, Fishes