Trophic niche partitioning of littoral fish species from the rocky intertidal of Helgoland, Germany

N. N. Hielscher*, A. M. Malzahn, R. Diekmann, N. Aberle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


During a 3-year field study, interspecific and interannual differences in the trophic ecology of littoral fish species were investigated in the rocky intertidal of Helgoland island (North Sea). We investigated trophic niche partitioning of common coexisting littoral fish species based on a multi-tracer approach using stable isotope and fatty acids in order to show differences and similarities in resource use and feeding modes. The results of the dual-tracer approach showed clear trophic niche partitioning of the five target fish species, the goldsinny wrasse Ctenolabrus rupestris, the sand goby Pomatoschistus minutus, the painted goby Pomatoschistus pictus, the short-spined sea scorpion Myoxocephalus scorpius and the long-spined sea scorpion Taurulus bubalis. Both stable isotopes and fatty acids showed distinct differences in the trophic ecology of the studied fish species. However, the combined use of the two techniques added an additional resolution on the interannual scale. The sand goby P. minutus showed the largest trophic plasticity with a pronounced variability between years. The present data analysis provides valuable information on trophic niche partitioning of fish species in the littoral zones of Helgoland and on complex benthic food webs in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-399
Number of pages15
JournalHelgoland Marine Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 27 2015


  • Ctenolabrus rupestris
  • Fatty acids
  • Feeding ecology
  • Myoxocephalus scorpius
  • Pomatoschistus minutus
  • Pomatoschistus pictus
  • Stable isotopes
  • Taurulus bubalis
  • Trophic ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science


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