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Ferox Trout (Salmo trutta) as ''Russian dolls'': complementary gut content and stable isotope analyses of the Loch Ness foodweb


Grey,  J.
Department Ecophysiology, Max Planck Institute for Limnology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Grey, J., Thackeray, S. J., Jones, R. I., & Shine, A. (2002). Ferox Trout (Salmo trutta) as ''Russian dolls'': complementary gut content and stable isotope analyses of the Loch Ness foodweb. Freshwater Biology, 47(7), 1235-1243.

1. Conventional collection methods for pelagic fish species (netting, trawling) are impractical or prohibited in Loch Ness, U.K. To investigate trophic relationships at the top of the Loch Ness food web, an alternative strategy, angling, provided samples of the top predator, the purely piscivorous ferox trout (Salmo trutta ). 2. The gut contents of these fish provided further samples of prey-fish, and subsequent examination of prey-fish guts revealed their dietary intake, analogous to the famous nested ''''Russian dolls''. Each trophic level separated by gut content analysis provided further complementary samples for stable isotope analysis and thus information on the longer term, assimilated diet. 3. Ferox trout exhibited considerable cannibalism to supplement a diet of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus ). However, conspecifics stemmed from a lower isotopic baseline in relation to charr, so ferox trout exhibited a lower trophic level than predicted (4.3) by using the delta(15) N values. Charr displayed dietary specialisation with increasing length, and isotopic values supported by the gut data placed the charr at a trophic level of 3.5. The isotope data also indicated that charr carbon was primarily autochthonous in origin.