The stable isotope values of nitrogen (δ15N) and carbon (δ13C) have been widely used in ecological studies to decipher the trophic relationships and interactions that occur between living organisms. The aim of this study was to determine the trophic relationship between a commercially important tropical Australian marine fish (Protonibea diacanthus (Lacepède, 1802)) (Sciaenidae) and its associated parasites, through stable isotope analysis of nitrogen and carbon (δ15N and δ13C). We examined the stable isotope ecology of four parasitic organisms: adult ectoparasitic copepods, and endoparasitic adult digeneans and nematodes and plerocercoids. Nitrogen in endoparasites was consistently depleted when compared with the host; however, digeneans expressed nitrogen signatures almost equivalent to those of the host. Ectoparasitic copepods were the only parasite that was substantially enriched in nitrogen compared with the host. All adult parasitic organisms were carbon depleted when compared with the host tissue associated with the site of infection; however, plerocercoids were enriched. Our findings emphasize the complexity of parasite–host interactions and the varying values of isotopic discrimination between parasite type, life-cycle stage, and location in host.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2023


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