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Stable isotope evidence for the environmental impact of a land-based fish farm in the western Mediterranean


Isotopic examination (d13C and d15N) of organic matter sources and consumers was used to assess the impact and trace the dispersal of wastewater from a land-based fish farm in western Mediterranean. The results provide evidence of the non-negligible effect of aquaculture facilities on the natural stable isotopic composition of organisms. Aquaculture waste entered the food web, altering the natural isotopic composition of organic matter sources at the base and the upper trophic levels. Nitrogen-rich fish waste mainly affected d15N values, while d13C showed less alteration. Waste seemed to disperse widely enough to affect the isotopic composition at the study site about 500 m from the outfall, while sites at 1 and 2 km from the outfall showed values that were similar to each other and different from those of the impacted site. The impact was detected at different ecosystem levels, although primary producers were more affected by fish farm waste taking up aquaculture-derived nutrients.