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Data from: Detrital shadows: estuarine food web connectivity depends on fluvial influence and consumer feeding mode

Citation

Howe, Emily; Simenstad, Charles A.; Ogston, Andrea (2017), Data from: Detrital shadows: estuarine food web connectivity depends on fluvial influence and consumer feeding mode, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2r23r

Abstract

We measured the influence of landscape setting on estuarine food web connectivity in five macrotidal Pacific Northwest estuaries across a gradient of freshwater influence. We used stable isotopes (δ13C, δ15N, δ34S) in combination with a Bayesian mixing model to trace primary producer contributions to suspension- and deposit-feeding bivalve consumers (Mytilus trossulus and Macoma nasuta) transplanted into three estuarine vegetation zones: emergent marsh, mudflat, Japanese eelgrass (Zostera japonica), and native eelgrass (Zostera marina). Fluvial discharge and consumer feeding mode strongly influenced the strength and spatial scale of observed food web linkages, while season played a secondary role. Mussels displayed strong cross-ecosystem connectivity in all estuaries, with decreasing marine influence in the more fluvial estuaries. Mussel diets indicated homogenization of detrital sources within the water column of each estuary. In contrast, the diets of benthic deposit-feeding clams indicated stronger compartmentalization in food web connectivity, especially in the largest river delta where clam diets were trophically disconnected from marsh sources of detritus. This suggests detritus deposition is patchy across space, and less homogenous than the suspended detritus pool. In addition to fluvial setting, other estuary-specific environmental drivers, such as marsh area or particle transport speed, influenced the degree of food web linkages across space and time, often accounting for unexpected patterns in food web connectivity. Transformations of the estuarine landscape that alter river hydrology or availability of detritus sources can thus potentially disrupt natural food web connectivity at the landscape scale, especially for sedentary organisms which cannot track their food sources through space.

Usage Notes

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-0743264

Location

USA
Puget Sound
Washington