Consistent trophic patterns among fishes in lagoon and channel habitats of a tropical floodplain river: Evidence from stable isotopes
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The relationship between food web dynamics and hydrological connectivity in rivers should be strongly influenced by annual flood pulses that affect primary production dynamics and movement of organic matter and consumer taxa. We sampled basal production sources and fishes from connected lagoons and the main channel of a low-gradient, floodplain river within the Orinoco River Basin in Venezuela. Stable isotope analysis was used to model the contribution of four basal production sources to fishes, and to examine patterns of mean trophic position during the falling-water period of the annual flood cycle. IsoSource, a multi-source mixing model, indicated that proportional contributions from production sources to fish assemblages were similar in lagoons and the main channel. Although distributions differed, the means for trophic positions of fish assemblages as well as individual species were similar between the two habitats. These findings contradict recent food web studies conducted in temperate floodplain rivers that described significant differences in trophic positions of fishes from slackwater and floodplain versus main channel habitats. Low between-habitat trophic variation in this tropical river probably results from an extended annual flood pulse (ca. 5mo.) that allows mixing of sestonic and allochthonous basal production sources and extensive lateral movements of fishes throughout the riverscape. 2009 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.