Trophic relationships of the important oceanic crustacean species Calanus finmarchicus, Meganyctiphanes norvegica and Sergestes arcticus, as well as the mesopelagic fishes Maurolicus muelleri, Benthosema glaciale and Sebastes mentella were investigated over the Reykjanes Ridge in June 2003 and in June 2004.
Measurements were performed of length, wet weight, dry weight, total lipid, lipid class, fatty acid and fatty alcohol profiles and stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N). High amounts of the Calanus lipid markers, 20:1(n-9) and 22:1(n-11) in these species confirm the importance of Calanus spp. in this ecosystem. Comparisons of fatty acid/alcohol profiles by multivariate analysis revealed two main trophic pathways over the Reykjanes Ridge. In one pathway, Calanus spp. was an important part of the diet for the small mesopelagic fish species M. muelleri and B. glaciale and the shrimp S. arcticus, whereas in the other pathway, the euphausiid M. norvegica was the dominant food for the redfish S. mentella, and Calanus spp. were of less importance. Maurolicus muelleri and the smaller B. glaciale feed on C. finmarchicus, whereas the larger B. glaciale and S. arcticus select the larger, deeper living C. hyperboreus. All investigated species are true pelagic species except for the shrimp S. arcticus, which seems to have a benthic feeding habit as well. The δ15N levels show that of the species investigated, C. finmarchicus occupies the lowest trophic level (2.0) and the redfish, S. mentella, the highest (4.2). All the species were lipid rich, typical for subarctic pelagic ecosystem. Calanus finmarchicus, S. arcticus and B. glaciale store wax esters as their lipid stores, while M. norvegica, M. muelleri and S. mentella store triacylglycerols.