Stable-isotope analysis supplemented with stomach contents data from published sources was used to quantify the trophic niches, trophic niche overlaps and potential trophic redundancy for the most commonly caught fish species from an East African nearshore seagrass community. This assessment is an important first step in quantifying food-web structure in a region subject to intense fishing activities. Nearshore food webs were driven by at least two isotopically distinct trophic pathways, algal and seagrass, with a greater proportion of the sampled species feeding within the seagrass food web (57%) compared with the algal food web (33%). There was considerable isotopic niche overlap among species (92% of species overlapped with at least one other species). Narrow isotopic niche widths of most (83%) species sampled, low isotopic similarity (only 23% of species exhibited no differences in δ13 C and δ15 N) and low predicted trophic redundancy among fishes most commonly caught by fishermen (15%), however, suggest that adjustments to resource management concerning harvesting and gear selectivity may be needed for the persistence of artisanal fishing in northern Tanzania. More detailed trophic studies paired with information on spatio-temporal variation in fish abundance, especially for heavily targeted species, will assist in the development and implementation of management strategies to maintain coastal food-web integrity.
Keywords: Bagamoyo; Indian Ocean; artisanal fisheries; teleosts; δ13C; δ15N.
© 2017 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.