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R Froese, S Garthe, U Piatkowski, and D Pauly (2005)

Trophic signatures of marine organisms in the Mediterranean as compared with other ecosystems


We compared several large marine ecosystems in terms of species numbers of fishes, sea birds, marine mammals, and cephalopods. We examined how these numbers were distributed by trophic level, from herbivores to top predators. We created group-specific trophic signatures as plots of number of species by trophic level, and used these to identify similarities and discrepancies between taxonomic groups and ecosystems. Preliminary results suggested that trophic signatures are similar for ecosystems previously known to share major features, and different for dissimilar ecosystems. In the Mediterranean, as well as in the other large marine ecosystems, fish clearly dominate the predatory trophic levels above 3.0. Preliminary signatures for cephalopods, marine mammals, and sea birds in the Mediterranean and in the North Sea indicate that these groups are restricted to trophic levels above 3.0, and are represented by many fewer species than are predatory fish. Notably, cephalopods are the only invertebrates present at higher trophic levels (>= 4). Invertebrates other than cephalopods are restricted to trophic levels below 3, with very few exceptions. Trophic signatures appear to be useful tools for better understanding of the roles that different groups of organisms play in different ecosystems. We also applied free-scale network theory to analyse the food web created by trophic links of fishes. Our preliminary results indicated that Mediterranean fishes are, on average, only two trophic links away from each other.

trophic level; food web; Mediterranean; North Sea; Baltic; Black Sea; Caribbean; South China Sea
9th International Congress on the Zoogeography and Ecology of Greece and Adjacent Regions, Thessaloniki, GREECE, MAY 22-25, 2002
  • ISSN: 0777-6276

ISSN 2295-0451 (online version)
ISSN 0777-6279 (printed version)
impact factor 2015: 0,87.

Prof. Dr. Isa Schön
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium


Annales de la Société malacologique de Belgique
​Annales de la Société royale malacologique et zoologique de Belgique
Annales de la Société Royale Zoologique de Belgique
Belgian Journal of Zoology