Deciphering the complex trophic relationship of the black-spotted croaker (Teleostei: Sciaenidae) and its parasites using stable isotope analysis

Megan Porter, Diane P. Barton, Shokoofeh Shamsi, David A. Crook, Jo Randall

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Abstract

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)) (Sci[1]aenidae) 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 em[1]phasize 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
Pages (from-to)385-392
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Volume101
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

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