Trophic connectivity of deep-sea to pelagic fauna

Evaluating vertical trophic connectivity will allow researchers to examine the species that may serve as “vectors” between functional groups or to commercially valuable fisheries stocks. In addition, baseline stable isotope values of important model species can then be integrated with quantitative survey data in order to assign putative values of importance to the overall food web in the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Stomach content and stable isotope analyses will be focused on several key “model species” in order to provide information on the trophic connectivity of the ecosystem. Key model species will include both vertically migratory and non-migratory fish and invertebrate species with multiple feeding strategies including planktivores, zooplanktivores, gelativores, and piscivores. Information gained will improve our understanding of the vertical connectivity for migrating and non-migrating species throughout discrete depth zones (epi-, meso-, bathypelagic). Incorporation of this feeding component into the broader scope will enable researchers to draw connections among different trophic groups and provide data for ecosystem-based impact models.

Wells Shark Biology and Fisheries Lab // Texas A&M University // Department of Marine Biology // 1001 Texas Clipper Rd. // Galveston, TX 77553