Supplementary material from "Deep pelagic food web structure as revealed by <i>in situ</i> feeding observations"

Published on 2017-12-06T09:24:16Z (GMT) by
Food web linkages, or the feeding relationships between species inhabiting a shared ecosystem, are an ecological lens through which ecosystem structure and function can be assessed, and thus are fundamental to informing sustainable resource management. Empirical feeding datasets have traditionally been painstakingly generated from stomach content analysis, direct observations and from biochemical trophic markers (stable isotopes, fatty acids, molecular tools). Each approach carries inherent biases and limitations, as well as advantages. Here, using 27 years (1991–2016) of <i>in situ</i> feeding observations collected by remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), we quantitatively characterize the deep pelagic food web of central California within the California Current, complementing existing studies of diet and trophic interactions with a unique perspective. Seven hundred and forty-three independent feeding events were observed with ROVs from near-surface waters down to depths approaching 4000 m, involving an assemblage of 84 different predators and 82 different prey types, for a total of 242 unique feeding relationships. The greatest diversity of prey was consumed by narcomedusae, followed by physonect siphonophores, ctenophores and cephalopods. We highlight key interactions within the poorly understood ‘jelly web’, showing the importance of medusae, ctenophores and siphonophores as key predators, whose ecological significance is comparable to large fish and squid species within the central California deep pelagic food web. Gelatinous predators are often thought to comprise relatively inefficient trophic pathways within marine communities, but we build upon previous findings to document their substantial and integral roles in deep pelagic food webs.

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Anela Choy, C.; H. D. Haddock, Steven; Robison, Bruce H. (2017): Supplementary material from "Deep pelagic food web structure as revealed by in situ feeding observations". The Royal Society.