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Trophic Structure and Community Stability in an Overfished Ecosystem

Science  16 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5989, pp. 333-336
DOI: 10.1126/science.1190708

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Abstract

Since the collapse of the pelagic fisheries off southwest Africa in the late 1960s, jellyfish biomass has increased and the structure of the Benguelan fish community has shifted, making the bearded goby (Sufflogobius bibarbatus) the new predominant prey species. Despite increased predation pressure and a harsh environment, the gobies are thriving. Here we show that physiological adaptations and antipredator and foraging behaviors underpin the success of these fish. In particular, body-tissue isotope signatures reveal that gobies consume jellyfish and sulphidic diatomaceous mud, transferring “dead-end” resources back into the food chain.

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