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Title: Niche partitioning amongst northwestern Mediterranean cetaceans using stable isotopes
Author: Borrell Thió, Assumpció
Gazo i Pérez, Manel
Aguilar, Àlex
Raga, Juan A.
Degollada, Eduard
Gozalbes, Patricia
García-Vernet, Raquel
Keywords: Mediterrània (Mar)
Mediterranean Sea
Issue Date: 18-Mar-2021
Publisher: Elsevier
Abstract: Ten species of cetaceans coexist in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the richest seas in biodiversity and endemisms worldwide. The conservation status of Mediterranean cetaceans has been a concern for many years, particularly due to increasing anthropogenic threats such as global warming and overfishing. We established the stable isotopic niches of carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur for five species of cetaceans inhabiting the northwestern Mediterranean Sea to elucidate the mechanisms of coexistence. The fin whale exploited epipelagic habitats with a low trophic level; the bottlenose dolphin was mostly neritic and had a high trophic level; the Risso's dolphin was oceanic and fed bathypelagically and at a high trophic level; finally, the common and striped dolphins displayed epipelagic distributions and similarly intermediate trophic levels. The isotopic niches of all species were exclusive except the common and striped dolphins, whose niches overlapped by 25%. These results suggest that the majority of species avoid competitive exclusion by trophic or spatial segregation with the exception of striped and common dolphins, in which interspecific competition is apparent. It is suggested that this competition brought the striped dolphin to displace the common dolphin from part of its distribution range, restricting it to the southern fringe of the western Mediterranean and, particularly, to the Alboran Sea. In this area, coexistence of the two species would be permitted by some degree of spatial segregation between them and a remarkably high productivity, all which mitigate competition.
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It is part of: Progress in Oceanography, 2021, vol. 193, p. 102559
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ISSN: 0079-6611
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals)

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