Food-web structure of coastal streams in Costa Rica revealed by dietary and stable isotope analyses Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract:Food webs of streams draining tropical rain forests on Costa Rica's Pacific and Caribbean coasts were examined in the 1980s via dietary analyses, and the same streams were surveyed again in 2004 to compare trophic structure based on analysis of stable isotope ratios of fish, macro-invertebrate and plant tissues. Estimates of species trophic positions (TP) were calculated from stomach-contents data (51 species; 5420 specimens) and compared with TP estimates derived from analysis of nitrogen isotope ratios (82 taxa; 240 samples). Coefficients of determination for TP based on dietary versus isotopic analysis ranged from 0.18 (Quebrada Camaronal, Corcovado) to 0.73 (Quebrada Estacion, Tortuguero). Consumer taxa within all four streams spanned a broad range of carbon isotope values, indicating assimilation of variable proportions of carbon from periphyton and terrestrial vegetation that in all but one of the streams had similar 13C values. Approximately half the consumers in all four streams had carbon ratios heavier than any of the in situ production sources examined. This pattern could be explained by consumption of other production sources that were not sampled, including periphyton taxa with variable carbon isotope signatures, or migration of prey and/or consumers between these freshwater and coastal marine habitats.

author list (cited authors)

  • Winemiller, K. O., Zeug, S. C., Robertson, C. R., Winemiller, B. K., & Honeycutt, R. L.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Winemiller, Kirk O||Zeug, Steven C||Robertson, Clinton R||Winemiller, Brent K||Honeycutt, Rodney L

publication date

  • September 2011