Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Multi-decadal and ontogenetic trophic shifts inferred from stable isotope ratios of pinniped teeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DOI

Open Access permissions

Open

Abstract

Identifying and characterizing top predators’ use of trophic resources provides important information about animal ecology and their response to changing conditions. Information from sources such as stable isotopes can be used to infer changes in resource use as direct observations in the wildare difficult to obtain, particularly in the marine environment. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values were recovered from the canine teeth of grey seals collected from haul outs in the central North Sea in the 1970/80s (n = 44) and 2000s (n = 25), spanning a period of marked ecosystem changes in the region. Extracting material deposited during juvenile and adult life-stages, we reconstructed a multi-decadal record ofδ15N and δ13C variation. Using established correlations between stable isotope ratios and sea bottom temperature we created a proxy for baseline isotopic variability to account for this source of temporal change. We found(1) a significant long-term decline in juvenile grey seal δ15N values,suggesting trophic position has decreased over time; (2) a decline in adultδ15N values and contraction in stable isotopic niche space after the North Sea regime shift, signifying both a decline in trophic position and change in foraging habits over the 20th century; and (3) evidence for dietary segregation between juvenile and adult animals, showing juvenile individuals feeding at a lower trophic position and in more nearshore areas than adults. Our results demonstrate the efficacy of mining archived biological samples to address ecological questions and imply important ontogenetic and long-term shifts in the feeding ecology of a top predator.Long-term changes in grey seal trophic dynamics may be partly in response to well documented ecosystem changes in the North Sea. Such indirect monitoring of marine predators may have utility when set in the context of ecosystem assessments where paucity of long-term monitoring data is prevalent.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-146
Number of pages12
JournalOikos
Volume127
Issue number1
Early online date25 Aug 2017
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. AIS data to inform small scale fisheries management and marine spatial planning

    James, M., Mendo, T., Jones, E. L., Orr, K., Mcknight, A. & Thompson, J. May 2018 In : Marine Policy. 91, p. 113-121

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Clawed forelimbs allow northern seals to eat like their ancient ancestors

    Hocking, D. P., Marx, F. G., Sattler, R., Harris, R. N., Pollock, T. I., Sorrell, K. J., Fitzgerald, E. M. G., McCurry, M. R. & Evans, A. R. 18 Apr 2018 In : Royal Society Open Science. 5, 11 p., 172393

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Updated Seal Usage Maps: The Estimated at-sea Distribution of Grey and Harbour Seals

    Russell, D. J. F., Jones, E. L. & Morris, C. 21 Dec 2017 Scottish Government. 25 p. (Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science; vol. 8, no. 25)

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

  4. Seals and shipping: quantifying population risk and individual exposure to vessel noise

    Jones, E. L., Hastie, G. D., Smout, S., Onoufriou, J., Merchant, N. D., Brookes, K. L. & Thompson, D. Dec 2017 In : Journal of Applied Ecology. 54, 6, p. 1930-1940

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Seals and Wild Salmon Fisheries: Interim Report

    Harris, R. & Northridge, S. P. 7 Nov 2017 SMRU. 18 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Related by journal

  1. Ecological traits reveal functional nestedness of bird communities in habitat islands: a global survey

    Matthews, T. J., Sheard, C., Cottee-jones, H. E. W., Bregman, T. P., Tobias, J. A. & Whittaker, R. J. 7 Jul 2015 In : Oikos. 124, 7, p. 817-826

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Intrinsic and extrinsic drivers of activity budgets in sympatric grey and harbour seals

    Russell, D. J. F., McClintock, B. T., Matthiopoulos, J., Thompson, P., Thompson, D., Hammond, P. S., Jones, E. L., MacKenzie, M., Moss, S. & McConnell, B. J. Nov 2015 In : Oikos. 124, 11, p. 1462-1472

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Using habitat selection theories to predict the spatiotemporal distribution of migratory birds during stopover - a case study of pink-footed geese Anser brachyrhynchus

    Chudzinska, M. E., van Beest, F. M., Madsen, J. & Nabe-Nielsen, J. Jul 2015 In : Oikos. 124, 7, p. 851-860 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Individual differences in searching behaviour and spatial foraging consistency in a central place marine predator

    Patrick, S. C., Bearhop, S., Grémillet, D., Lescroël, A., Grecian, W. J., Bodey, T. W., Hamer, K. C., Wakefield, E., Le Nuz, M. & Votier, S. C. Jan 2014 In : Oikos. 123, 1, p. 33-40 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 250545632