Resolving the Trophic Relations of Cryptic Species: An Example Using Stable Isotope Analysis of Dolphin Teeth

Kylie Owen, Kate Charlton-Robb, Ross Thompson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    12 Citations (Scopus)
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    Abstract

    Understanding the foraging ecology and diet of animals can play a crucial role in conservation of a species. This is particularly true where species are cryptic and coexist in environments where observing feeding behaviour directly is difficult. Here we present the first information on the foraging ecology of a recently identified species of dolphin (Southern Australian bottlenose dolphin (SABD)) and comparisons to the common bottlenose dolphin (CBD) in Victoria, Australia, using stable isotope analysis of teeth. Stable isotope signatures differed significantly between SABD and CBD for both d13C (214.4% vs. 215.5% respectively) and d15N (15.9% vs. 15.0% respectively), suggesting that the two species forage in different areas and consume different prey. This finding supports genetic and morphological data indicating that SABD are distinct from CBD. In Victoria, the SABD is divided into two distinct populations, one in the large drowned river system of Port Phillip Bay and the other in a series of coastal lakes and lagoons called the Gippsland Lakes. Within the SABD species, population differences were apparent. The Port Phillip Bay population displayed a significantly higher d15N than the Gippsland Lakes population (17.0% vs. 15.5%), suggesting that the Port Phillip Bay population may feed at a higher trophic level - a result which is supported by analysis of local food chains. Important future work is required to further understand the foraging ecology and diet of this newly described, endemic, and potentially endangered species of dolphin.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Fingerprint

    Bottle-Nosed Dolphin
    Dolphins
    Tursiops truncatus
    Ecology
    dolphins
    Isotopes
    stable isotopes
    Lakes
    Tooth
    teeth
    Nutrition
    Common Dolphins
    harbors (waterways)
    Victoria (Australia)
    Victoria
    Population
    Conservation
    Animals
    foraging
    Rivers

    Cite this

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    title = "Resolving the Trophic Relations of Cryptic Species: An Example Using Stable Isotope Analysis of Dolphin Teeth",
    abstract = "Understanding the foraging ecology and diet of animals can play a crucial role in conservation of a species. This is particularly true where species are cryptic and coexist in environments where observing feeding behaviour directly is difficult. Here we present the first information on the foraging ecology of a recently identified species of dolphin (Southern Australian bottlenose dolphin (SABD)) and comparisons to the common bottlenose dolphin (CBD) in Victoria, Australia, using stable isotope analysis of teeth. Stable isotope signatures differed significantly between SABD and CBD for both d13C (214.4{\%} vs. 215.5{\%} respectively) and d15N (15.9{\%} vs. 15.0{\%} respectively), suggesting that the two species forage in different areas and consume different prey. This finding supports genetic and morphological data indicating that SABD are distinct from CBD. In Victoria, the SABD is divided into two distinct populations, one in the large drowned river system of Port Phillip Bay and the other in a series of coastal lakes and lagoons called the Gippsland Lakes. Within the SABD species, population differences were apparent. The Port Phillip Bay population displayed a significantly higher d15N than the Gippsland Lakes population (17.0{\%} vs. 15.5{\%}), suggesting that the Port Phillip Bay population may feed at a higher trophic level - a result which is supported by analysis of local food chains. Important future work is required to further understand the foraging ecology and diet of this newly described, endemic, and potentially endangered species of dolphin.",
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    Resolving the Trophic Relations of Cryptic Species: An Example Using Stable Isotope Analysis of Dolphin Teeth. / Owen, Kylie; Charlton-Robb, Kate; Thompson, Ross.

    In: PLoS One, Vol. 6, 2011, p. 1-10.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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