Trophic structure of a boreal forest arthropod community revealed by stable isotope (δ13C, δ15N) analyses
Article first published online: 25 MAR 2009
© 2009 The Entomological Society of Japan
Volume 12, Issue 1, pages 17–24, March 2009
How to Cite
BENNETT, P. M. and HOBSON, K. A. (2009), Trophic structure of a boreal forest arthropod community revealed by stable isotope (δ13C, δ15N) analyses. Entomological Science, 12: 17–24. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-8298.2009.00308.x
- Issue published online: 25 MAR 2009
- Article first published online: 25 MAR 2009
- Received 2 June 2008; accepted 7 November 2008.
- food web;
- forest ecology;
Terrestrial arthropods are important components of boreal ecosystems but relatively little is known about their trophic structure within communities. We measured δ13C and δ15N values in a broad range of arthropod taxa (Coleoptera, Diptera, Ephemeroptera, Homoptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Odonata, Orthoptera, Araneae) from boreal forest in Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada. Isotopic measurements supported previous conventional investigations on foraging niches based on stomach content analysis and direct feeding observations but additional, new information was also obtained using the stable isotope approach. Significant differences were observed in both δ15N and δ13C values between various orders and families or superfamilies within orders. Higher variance in stable isotope values for scavengers (e.g. carrion beetles; Coleoptera, Silphidae) and generalists (e.g. ground beetles; Coleoptera, Carabidae) was found compared to specialists (e.g. grasshoppers; Orthoptera). Consistent isotopic differences between terrestrial and aquatic species were not found. However, aquatic insect δ13C values tended to be lower than those of their terrestrial counterparts. We discuss the potential for using stable isotope methods to reconstruct trophic linkages and interaction involving arthropods.