Dataset Open Access

Stable isotope ratios of C, N and S in Southern Ocean sea stars (1985-2017)

Le Bourg, Baptiste; Moreau, Camille; Balazy, Piotr; Danis, Bruno; Eléaume, Marc; Gan, Yi-Ming; Jossart, Quentin; Kuklinski, Piotr; Lepoint, Gilles; Saucède, Thomas; Van de Putte, Anton; Michel, Loïc N.

Thesis supervisor(s)

Lepoint, Gilles; Michel, Loïc N.

Sea stars (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) are a key component of Southern Ocean benthos, with 16% of the known sea star species living there. In temperate marine environments, sea stars commonly play an important role in food webs, acting as keystone species. However, trophic ecology and functional role of Southern Ocean sea stars are still poorly known, notably due to the scarcity of large-scale studies. Here, we report 24332 trophic marker (stable isotopes and elemental contents of C, N and S of tegument and/or tube feet) and biometric (arm length, disk radius, arm to disk ratio) measurements in 2456 specimens of sea stars. Samples were collected between 12/01/1985 and 08/10/2017 in numerous locations along the Antarctic littoral and Subantarctic islands. The spatial scope of the dataset covers a significant portion of the Southern Ocean (Latitude: 47.717° South to 86.273° South ; longitude: 127.767° West to 162.201° East ; depth: 6 to 5338 m). The dataset contains 133 distinct taxa, including 72 currently accepted species spanning 51 genera, 20 families and multiple feeding guilds / functional groups (suspension feeders, sediment feeders, omnivores, predators of mobile or sessile prey). For 505 specimens, mitochondrial CO1 genes were sequenced to confirm and/or refine taxonomic identifications, and those sequences are already publicly available through the Barcode of Life Data System. This number will grow in the future, as molecular analyses are still in progress. Overall, thanks to its large taxonomic, spatial, and temporal extent, as well as its integrative nature (combining genetic, morphological and ecological data), this dataset can be of wide interest to Southern Ocean ecologists, invertebrate zoologists, benthic ecologists, and environmental managers dealing with associated areas.

Sources of funding: Belgian Federal Science Policy (BELSPO) BRAIN-be grants number BR/132/A1/VERSO and BR/154/A1/RECTO; Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS) FRIA doctoral grant number 1.E091.16; French Polar Institute Paul-Emile Victor (IPEV) research programs 1044 PROTEKER and 1124 REVOLTA; National Science Center Poland (NCN) OPUS grant number 2020/37/B/ST10/02905; and Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) IPY project 53 CEAMARC.
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  • Le Bourg B (2020). Trophic ecology of Southern Ocean sea stars: Influence of environmental drivers on trophic diversity. PhD Thesis, University of Liège, Laboratory of Oceanology. 261 pp. Available from ULiège's institutional repository at

  • Le Bourg B, Kuklinski P, Balazy P, Lepoint G, Michel LN (2021) Interactive effects of body size and environmental gradient on the trophic ecology of sea stars in an Antarctic fjord. Marine Ecology Progress Series 674:189-202.

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