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Volume 3, Pages 613-622
Research Article

Stable Isotope Food Web Analysis of a Large Subtropical Lake: Alternative Explanations for 15N Enrichment of Pelagic vs. Littoral Fisheries

South Florida Water Management District, 3301 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach, Florida 33406, USA

Copyright © 2003 Karl E. Havens et al.


The food webs of littoral, pelagic, and littoral-pelagic ecotone (interface) regions of a large subtropical lake were investigated using stable isotope ratio methods, expanding the focus of a previous fish-only study to include other food web components such as primary producers and invertebrates. In these food webs, δ13C increased ~4o/oo and δ15N increased ~10o/oo from primary producers to fish. The δ15N of fish was ~9o/oo in the littoral zone, ~10 o/oo in the ecotone, and ~12o/oo in the pelagic zone. The cross-habitat enrichment in fish 15N corresponded with both an increase in the size of fish and an increase in the δ15N of primary consumers (mollusks). Despite larger body size in the pelagic zone, fish in all three habitats appear to occur at the same average trophic level (TL = 4), assuming an enrichment factor of 3.4o/oo per trophic level, and normalizing to the δ15N of primary consumers.