Document Type

Thesis

Publication details

Gillies, CL 2012, 'Trophic ecology of the nearshore zone in East Antarctica : a stable isotope approach', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright CL Gillies 2012

Abstract

This thesis describes the food webs of two, shallow-water benthic communities from the Windmill Island and Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica. Isotopes of carbon and nitrogen were analysed to establish baseline descriptions of community structure and function. Both food webs shared similar features, and there were clear energy pathways to first order-consumers, yet higher-order consumers displayed considerable trophic diversity, resulting in complex food webs characterised by many trophic links. A review of the global literature for isotope marine food webs was conducted and revealed that: food chain length was similar across all habitats, food webs were negatively correlated with oceanographic primary productivity and positively correlated with δ15N values of the top consumer. I consequently hypothesise that shallow-water benthic communities share similar food web features throughout Antarctica.