Estuarine coastal and shelf science vol:54 issue:5 pages:901-913
In order to assess the relative trophic importance of mangrove litterfall and aquatic primary production in the mangrove creeks of the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh, India) and the adjacent semi-enclosed Kakinada Bay, carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios were determined in a variety of benthic invertebrate species collected at 22 sites during the pre-monsoon period (May-June) of 1997 and 1999. delta(13)C values showed little interspecific variation at any given location, but there was a distinct spatial gradient in consumer delta(13)C values of about 7parts per thousand, with more depleted values in the mangrove creeks ( - 23.6 +/- 0.6parts per thousand), and gradually increasing in the mangrove outlets ( - 21.5 +/- 0.9parts per thousand), a relatively restricted zone in the south-eastern part of Kakinada Bay adjacent to the mangroves ( - 18.8 +/- 0.8parts per thousand), and the central and northern part of the Bay ( - 16.7 +/- 1.4parts per thousand) which opens into the Bay of Bengal. This gradient is much larger than that observed during a previous study in suspended organic matter (maximum about 2.7parts per thousand) and during this study in sediment organic matter (about 1.5-2.5parts per thousand). The observed carbon stable isotope ratios thus suggest a marked selectivity of the benthic invertebrate community for pelagic and benthic microalgal food sources and indicate that mangrove-derived and other terrestrial carbon is not a significant food source for benthic invertebrate communities in this ecosystem during the pre-monsoon period. Furthermore, delta(13)C values of sediment organic matter (SOM) suggest that terrestrial carbon is not a major contributor to the SOM-pool in this ecosystem. Evidence for seaward migration of Penaeid prawns was provided by some individuals caught in the North Bay which displayed low delta(13)C values of characteristic of fauna found in the mangrove creeks or outlets. Nitrogen stable isotope ratios were found to be a useful indicator of trophic level, even though there remained some overlap between delta(15)N values of presumed low and higher trophic levels. Benthic invertebrates showed a delta(15)N gradient of about 3.2parts per thousand between the mangrove creeks and the Central and North Bay whereas sediment delta(15)N values showed a smaller spatial gradient of about 1.6parts per thousand. This gradient which is hypothesized to reflect differences in inorganic nitrogen sources and availability. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.