Dietary carbon sources in headwater stream food webs are divided into allochthonous and autochthonous organic matters. We hypothesized that: 1) the dietary allochthonous contribution for fish in headwater stream food webs positively relate with canopy cover; and 2) essential fatty acids originate from autochthonous organic matter regardless of canopy covers, because essential fatty acids, such as 20:5ω3 and 22:6ω3, are normally absent in allochthonous organic matters. We investigated predatory fish Salvelinus leucomaenis stomach contents in four headwater stream systems, which are located in subarctic region in northern Japan. In addition, stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios, fatty acid profile, and stable carbon isotope ratios of essential fatty acids were analyzed. Bulk stable carbon analysis showed the major contribution of autochthonous sources to assimilated carbon in S. leucomaenis. Surface baits in the stomach had intermediate stable carbon isotope ratios between autochthonous and allochthonous organic matter, indicating aquatic carbon was partly assimilated by surface baits. Stable carbon isotope ratios of essential fatty acids showed a positive relationship between autochthonous sources and S. leucomaenis across four study sites. This study demonstrated that the main supplier of dietary carbon and essential fatty acids was autochthonous organic matter even in headwater stream ecosystems under high canopy cover.
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