Boreal and Lusitanian species display trophic niche variation in temperate waters

Climate change has non-linear impacts on species distributions and abundance that have cascading effects on ecosystem structure and function. Among them are shifts in trophic interactions within communities. Sites found at the interface between two or more biogeographical regions, where species with diverse thermal preferenda are assembled, are areas of strong interest to study the impact of climate change on communities' interactions. This study examined variation in trophic structure in the Celtic Sea, a temperate environment that hosts a mixture of cold-affiliated Boreal species and warm-affiliated Lusitanian species. Using carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios, trophic niche area, width, and position were investigated for 10 abundant and commercially important demersal fish species across space and time. In general, the niches of Boreal species appear to be contracting while those of Lusitanian species expand, although there are some fluctuations among species. These results provide evidence that trophic niches can undergo rapid modifications over short time periods (study duration: 2014–2021) and that this process may be conditioned by species thermal preferenda. Boreal species displayed spatial variation in trophic niche width and seem to be facing increased competition with Lusitanian species for food resources. These findings underscore the need to utilize indicators related to species trophic ecology to track the ecosystem alterations induced by climate change. Such indicators could reveal that the vulnerability of temperate ecosystems is currently being underestimated.


Celtic Sea, climate change, competition, habitat suitability, isotopes, thermal preferenda, trophic structure

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Amelot Morgane, Robert Marianne, Mouchet Maud, Kopp Dorothee (2023). Boreal and Lusitanian species display trophic niche variation in temperate waters. Ecology And Evolution. 13 (11). e10744 (10p.).,

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