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Trophic niche of squids: Insights from isotopic data in marine systems worldwide

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  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science
  • Ecology


Cephalopods are an important prey resource for fishes, seabirds, and marine mammals, and are also voracious predators on crustaceans, fishes, squid and zooplankton. Because of their high feeding rates and abundance, squids have the potential to exert control on the recruitment of commercially important fishes. In this review, we synthesize the available information for two intrinsic markers (δ15N and δ13C isotopic values) in squids for all oceans and several types of ecosystems to obtain a global view of the trophic niches of squids in marine ecosystems. In particular, we aimed to examine whether the trophic positions and trophic widths of squid species vary among oceans and ecosystem types. To correctly compare across systems, we adjusted squid δ15N values for the isotopic variability of phytoplankton at the base of the food web provided by an ocean circulation–biogeochemistry–isotope model. Studies that focused on the trophic ecology of squids using isotopic techniques were few, and most of the information on squids was from studies on their predators. Our results showed that squids occupy a large range of trophic positions and exploit a large range of trophic resources, reflecting the versatility of their feeding behavior and confirming conclusions from food-web models. Clear differences in both trophic position and trophic width were found among oceans and ecosystem types. The study also reinforces the importance of considering the natural variation in isotopic values when comparing the isotopic values of consumers inhabiting different ecosystems.

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