Expanded methods, supplementary Table and Figures from What difference does a century make? Shifts in the ecosystem structure of the Ross Sea, Antarctica, as evidenced from a sentinel species, the Weddell seal
2017-08-08T14:44:00Z (GMT) by
The arrival of humans to Antarctica's Ross Sea (100+ years ago) led to a slow, but sustained increase in human activities in the area. To investigate if human presence has influenced the structure of the ecosystem over the last century, we compared historical (ca 100 years old) and modern samples of a sentinel species, the Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii), using both bulk tissue and compound-specific stable isotope analysis. The historical isotopic niche of Weddell seals was over five times larger than the modern niche. The isotopic values of individual amino acids showed a clear segregation between historical and modern samples, indicative of differences at the base of the trophic web. Further, we found no significant differences in the trophic position of Weddell seals between the two periods. Our study revealed that the Ross Sea has undergone detectable changes (i.e. in the primary producers community) in the last century, but the presence of humans has not disrupted trophic interactions supporting Weddell seals.