Can mandible morphology help predict feeding habits in Antarctic amphipods?

Type Article
Date 2020-12
Language English
Author(s) Michel LoicORCID1, 2, Nyssen Fabienne L.1, Dauby Patrick1, Verheye Marie2
Affiliation(s) 1 : Laboratory of Systematics and Animal Diversity, Freshwater and Oceanic Sciences Unit of reSearch (FOCUS), University of Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgium
2 : Laboratory of Oceanology, Freshwater and Oceanic Sciences Unit of reSearch (FOCUS), University of Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgium
Source Antarctic Science (0954-1020) (Cambridge University Press (CUP)), 2020-12 , Vol. 32 , N. 6 , P. 496-507
DOI 10.1017/S0954102020000395
WOS© Times Cited 2
Keyword(s) diet analysis, food webs, Peracarida, scanning electron microscopy, Southern Ocean, trophic ecology

In Antarctica, amphipods form a highly diverse group, occupy many different ecological niches and hold an important place in food webs. Here, we aimed to test whether differences in Antarctic amphipod feeding habits were reflected in their mandible morphology, and if mouthpart specialization could be used to describe amphipod trophic ecology. To do so, we compared mandible morphology in nine species spanning seven families and five functional groups (grazers, suspension feeders, generalist predators, specialist predators and scavengers). Mandible morphology adequately depicted some aspects of amphipod trophic ecology, such as the trophic level at which animals feed or their degree of dietary specialization. On the other hand, links between mandible morphology and amphipod diet were seldom unambiguous or straightforward. Similar adaptations were found in distinct functional groups. Conversely, mandible morphology could vary within a single functional group, and phylogenetic effects sometimes complicated the interpretation of form-function relationships. Overall, mandible morphology on its own was generally not sufficient to precisely predict amphipod feeding strategies. However, when combined with other methods (e.g. gut contents, trophic markers), it constitutes a valuable source of information for integrative studies of amphipod ecological diversity in the Southern Ocean.

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