Reviews and syntheses: Insights into deep-sea food webs and global environmental gradients revealed by stable isotope ( δ15N, δ13C) and fatty acid trophic biomarkers

Parzanini, Camilla; Parrish, Christopher C.; Hamel, Jean-François; Mercier, Annie

Biochemical markers developed initially for food-web studies of terrestrial and shallow-water environments have only recently been applied to deep-sea ecosystems (i.e., in the early 2000s). For the first time since their implementation, this review took a close look at the existing literature in the field of deep-sea trophic ecology to synthesize current knowledge. Furthermore, it provided an opportunity for a preliminary analysis of global geographic (i.e., latitudinal, along a depth gradient) trends in the isotopic (inline-formulaδ15N, inline-formulaδ13C) and fatty acid composition of deep-sea macro- and megafauna from heterotrophic systems. Results revealed significant relationships along the latitudinal and bathymetric gradients. Deep-sea animals sampled at temperate and polar latitudes displayed lower isotopic ratios and greater proportions of essential inline-formulaω3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) than did tropical counterparts. Furthermore, inline-formulaδ15N and inline-formulaδ13C ratios as well as proportions of arachidonic acid increased with increasing depth. Since similar latitudinal trends in the isotopic and fatty acid composition were found in surface water phytoplankton and particulate organic matter, these results highlight the link across latitudes between surface primary production and deep-water communities. Because global climate change may affect quantity and quality (e.g., levels of essential inline-formulaω3 PUFAs) of surface primary productivity, and by extension those of its downward flux, the dietary intake of deep-sea organisms may likely be altered. In addition, because essential inline-formulaω3 PUFAs play a major role in the response to temperature variations, climate change may interfere with the ability of deep-sea species to cope with potential temperature shifts. Importantly, methodological disparities were highlighted that prevented in-depth analyses, indicating that further studies should be conducted using standardized methods in order to generate more reliable global predictions.



Parzanini, Camilla / Parrish, Christopher C. / Hamel, Jean-François / et al: Reviews and syntheses: Insights into deep-sea food webs and global environmental gradients revealed by stable isotope (δ15N, δ13C) and fatty acid trophic biomarkers. 2019. Copernicus Publications.


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