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Title: Trophic structure in a seabird host-parasite food web: insights from stable isotope analyses
Author: Gómez Díaz, Elena
González-Solís, Jacob
Keywords: Ocells marins
Sea birds
Issue Date: May-2010
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Abstract: Ecological studies on food webs rarely include parasites, partly due to the complexity and dimensionality of host-parasite interaction networks. Multiple co-occurring parasites can show different feeding strategies and thus lead to complex and cryptic trophic relationships, which are often difficult to disentangle by traditional methods. We analyzed stable isotope ratios of C (13C/12C, δ13C) and N (15N/14N, δ15N) of host and ectoparasite tissues to investigate trophic structure in 4 co-occurring ectoparasites: three lice and one flea species, on two closely related and spatially segregated seabird hosts (Calonectris shearwaters). δ13C isotopic signatures confirmed feathers as the main food resource for the three lice species and blood for the flea species. All ectoparasite species showed a significant enrichment in δ15N relatively to the host tissue consumed (discrimination factors ranged from 2 to 5 depending on the species). Isotopic differences were consistent across multiple host-ectoparasite locations, despite of some geographic variability in baseline isotopic levels. Our findings illustrate the influence of both ectoparasite and host trophic ecology in the isotopic structuring of the Calonectris ectoparasite community. This study highlights the potential of stable isotope analyses in disentangling the nature and complexity of trophic relationships in symbiotic systems.
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It is part of: PLoS One, 2010, vol. 5, num. 5, p. e10454
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ISSN: 1932-6203
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals)

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