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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 60(9)

Sources of nutrition supporting juvenile penaeid prawns in an Australian dry tropics estuary

Kátya Abrantes A B, Marcus Sheaves A

A Coastal and Estuary Ecosystem Ecology Laboratory, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.
B Corresponding author Email: katya.abrantes@gmail.com
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Prawn fisheries are among the main sources of income in several tropical countries, where juveniles of many species inhabit estuarine wetlands. Although plants in these wetlands are considered to be essential food sources for juvenile prawns, some studies suggest that wetland producers are of limited importance. In the present study, δ13C and δ15N were used to identify differences in diet between penaeid species and size classes, and to determine if terrestrial wetland producers are important for nutrition. Two estuarine floodplain pools were sampled: one surrounded by mangroves and one surrounded by salt marsh. There were differences in diet between species and size classes. As mangrove δ13C (–29.7 to –26.3‰) was very different from salt marsh δ13C (–16.3 to –15.4‰), the importance of these producers was examined by comparing the isotopic composition of the prawns between sites and by using the IsoSource model. Although aquatic sources were the most important, salt marsh grass was also a significant contributor, supporting the hypothesis that these wetland producers are important for juvenile prawn nutrition. There was no evidence that mangrove material was of major importance for any species, suggesting that mangrove productivity is not the primary reason for the occurrence of penaeid prawns in mangrove habitats.

Keywords: carbon, diet, estuaries, Penaeidae, stable isotope analysis.

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