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See detailEffects of an experimental resource pulse on the macrofaunal assemblage inhabiting seagrass macrophytodetritus
Remy, François ULg; Gobert, Sylvie ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg

in Belgian Journal of Zoology (in press)

Physical disturbances and resource pulses are major structuring drivers of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The accumulations of exported dead leaves from the Neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica (L ... [more ▼]

Physical disturbances and resource pulses are major structuring drivers of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The accumulations of exported dead leaves from the Neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile are ephemeral and highly dynamic detrital habitats offering food sources and shelter for vagile macrofauna community. These habitats are frequently subject to wind and storms which can add “new” detrital material to previous accumulations; these can be defined as resource pulses and could potentially impact the associated macrofauna. This study assesses the impact of an experimental resource pulse on the macrofauna associated with exported P. oceanica litter accumulations. The experimental design consisted of two pulse treatments (the addition of dead leaves with and without the associated fauna), and two controls (one procedural, and one total control), where the added material was left underwater for 14 days. Invertebrates then present in the sampled detritus were all identified and counted. Our data suggest that the responses of these invertebrates to resource pulses present intermediate characteristics between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems responses. Inputting a moderate amount of dead P. oceanica leaves into experimental mesocosms had a non-negligible impact and rapidly affected the macrofauna community. Specialist detritivores species were boosted while herbivore/detritivore species dramatically decreased. Predators also showed a modest but significant density increase, demonstrating the fast propagation of the pulse response throughout the entire community and through several trophic levels. Strict hypoxia-tolerant species were also only observed in the treated mesocosms, indicating the strong influence of resource pulses on physico-chemical conditions occurring inside litter accumulations. [less ▲]

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See detailLinking pollutant exposure of humpback whales breeding in the Indian Ocean to their feeding habits and feeding areas off Antarctica
Das, Krishna ULg; Malarvannan, Govindan; Dirtu, Alin et al

in Environmental Pollution (in press)

Humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, breeding off la Reunion Island (Indian Ocean) undergo large-scale seasonal migrations between summer feeding grounds near Antarctica and their reproductive winter ... [more ▼]

Humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, breeding off la Reunion Island (Indian Ocean) undergo large-scale seasonal migrations between summer feeding grounds near Antarctica and their reproductive winter grounds in the Indian Ocean. The main scope of the current study was to investigate chemical exposure of humpback whales breeding in the Indian Ocean by providing the first published data on this breeding stock concerning persistent organic pollutants (POPs), namely polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs), DDT and its metabolites (DDTs), chlordane compounds (CHLs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and methoxylated PBDEs (MeO-PBDEs). Analyses of stable isotopes δ13C and δ15N in skin resulted in further insight in their feeding ecology, which was in agreement with a diet focused mainly on low trophic level prey species, such as krill from Antarctica. POPs were measured in all humpback whales in the order of HCB > DDTs > CHLs > HCHs > PCBs > PBDEs > MeO-BDEs. HCB (median: 24 ng.g-1 lw) and DDTs (median: 7.7 ng.g-1 lw) were the predominant compounds in all whale biopsies. Among DDT compounds, p,p’-DDE was the major organohalogenated pollutant, reflecting its long-term accumulation in humpback whales. Significantly lower concentrations of HCB and DDTs were found in females than in males (p<0.001). Other compounds were similar between the two genders (p>0.05). Differences in the HCB and DDTs suggested gender-specific transfer of some compounds to the offspring. POP concentrations were lower than previously reported results for humpback whales sampled near the Antarctic Peninsula, suggesting potential influence of their nutritional status and may indicate different exposures of the whales according to their feeding zones. Further investigations are required to assess exposure of southern humpback whales throughout their feeding zones. [less ▲]

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See detailReconstitution des paléoenvironnements et des activités humaines à partir de l’étude de sédiments prélevés dans le Cap Corse (Corse, France)
Fagel, Nathalie ULg; Fontaine, François ULg; Pleuger, Elisa ULg et al

in Ghilardi, Mathieu (Ed.) La géoarchéologie des îles de Méditerranée (in press)

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See detailImpact of food type on respiration, fractionation and turnover of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in the marine amphipod Gammarus aequicauda (Martynov, 1931).
Remy, François ULg; Darchambeau, François ULg; Melchior, Aurélie et al

in Journal of Experimental Marine Biology & Ecology (2017), 486

This study experimentally determined the impact of food source type on turnover rate and trophic enrichment factors (TEFs or ∆) of δ13C and δ15N, as well as on respiration rate, in captive populations of ... [more ▼]

This study experimentally determined the impact of food source type on turnover rate and trophic enrichment factors (TEFs or ∆) of δ13C and δ15N, as well as on respiration rate, in captive populations of the marine amphipod Gammarus aequicauda. Gammarus aequicauda (318 individuals) were fed ad libitum with three food sources animal, algae, and dead Posidonia oceanica leaves (also called “litter”), varying in palatability, digestibility, nutritional qualities and isotopic compositions, for between four and six weeks in a controlled feeding experiment. The resulting death rate was lower for the amphipods fed with animal treatment (30.9%) than for individuals fed with algal (65.9%) or litter treatment (64.4%), indicating a better fitness of the individuals fed with the animal food source. Respiration rates also differed highly among the treatments. Animal treatment showed higher respiration rates than algal and litter treatments, potentially due to the toxicity of the algae and the very low nutritional quality of the litter. Amphipods fed with these treatments might have entered in a “low activity state” to cope with these unsuitable food sources, inducing low respiration rates. Due to the very low assimilation and toxicity of the algae source, turnover rate for δ13C was impossible to determine. Turnover rate for δ13C was much faster (half-life = 12.55 days) for amphipods fed with the animal food source than for amphipods fed with litter (half-life = 51.62 days), showing the faster assimilation of the most nutritionally optimal food sources by G. aequicauda. Turnover for δ15N was impossible to determine because the amphipods were already at isotopic equilibrium at the beginning of the experiment. Despite the detritus feeder status of Gammarus aequicauda, TEFs for the animal treatments were in accordance with values generally found for carnivorous organisms (∆13C = 0.9 ± 0.7‰; ∆15N = 2.9 ± 0.6‰). TEFs for the litter treatment were in accordance with values generally corresponding to detritivorous organisms (∆13C = 1.2‰; ∆15N = 1.0 ± 0.4‰). SIAR mixing model outputs obtained with these new TEF values were more constrained and coherent than outputs obtained with general literature TEFs. This study thus demonstrated the non-negligible impact of the food source on Gammarus aequicauda physiological status, fitness and turnover rates, but also on TEFs—highlighting the importance of TEF experimental calculations for every potential food source of a given organism to ensure more robust isotopic data interpretation. [less ▲]

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See detailEcoNum, a research unit devoted to marine environment monitoring
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Batigny, Antoine; Georges, Nadège et al

Conference (2016, October 27)

The monitoring of coastal environments remains a research domain of great interest and concern. Coastal ecosystems are threatened by natural and human-induced stressors and are, as transitional ... [more ▼]

The monitoring of coastal environments remains a research domain of great interest and concern. Coastal ecosystems are threatened by natural and human-induced stressors and are, as transitional environments, particularly sensitive to disturbances. EcoNum first research thematic revolves around hermatypic corals, calcifying organisms, and their adaptation potentials to environmental changes including by using original and patented chemostats. The studied organisms are grown and maintained in artificial mesocosms that simulate environmental conditions of a natural system. This infrastructure allows to perform long-term experiments, giving time to organisms to adapt to the tested conditions (e.g., increased temperature or lowered pH). Longer-term studies have demonstrated that many organisms are more resistant to environmental stressors than previously observed on the short-term. EcoNum also studies coastal plankton abundance and diversity. Plankton is particularly sensitive to physicochemical changes of water bodies. The classification and the enumeration of planktonic organisms require specialized tools in order to analyse time series of multiple samples. EcoNum has developed a software for the semi-automatic classification of planktonic organisms called Zoo/PhytoImage. This software has been used to study a 10-year time series of coastal Mediterranean zooplankton samples. The concomitant analysis of environmental parameters registered at high frequency with specific statistical tools such as the R package pastecs allows to understand the processes governing the changes observed in plankton assemblages. The use and the development of statistical tools in R (e.g., Zoo/Phytoimage, pastecs) is a priority of EcoNum to favour open access knowledge and reproductive sciences. EcoNum research topics also focus on coastal ecotoxicology. Chemicals, including trace elements, remain contaminants of concern, mainly in coastal environments that are the final sink of inland pollution sources. The chemical integrity of coastal ecosystems thus has to be accurately monitored. The partitioning of chemicals between their dissolved, particulate and sedimentary phases does not provide information on their bioavailability. EcoNum thus monitors coastal waters using bioindicator species such as seagrasses, mussels or sand worms. A global map of the contamination of the Mediterranean by trace elements has been drawn using seagrasses has bioindicator species. EcoNum also studies trace element ecology and toxicology. For instance, it has demonstrated the toxicity of copper on the coral Seriatopora hystrix and it's symbiont's photosynthetic processes, or its bioaccumulation and basipetal translocation towards rhizomes in the seagrass Posidonia oceanica as reserve nutrient for subsequent leaf growth. Finally, coastal vegetated systems are potential carbon thinks (or sources) in the global carbon cycle. Therefore, EcoNum studies the primary productivity of seagrass meadows, from the individual to the community, with measuring techniques as diverse as PAM-fluorometry or biomass production determination. To conclude, EcoNum is a research unit devoted to marine environment monitoring. It develops research thematics on major coastal communities such as coral reefs, seagrass beds or plankton assemblages and studies their natural dynamics and the effects of stressors on their global functioning. [less ▲]

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See detailA one year survey of seagrass primary productivity using the diving-PAM technique
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Abadie, Arnaud; Grosjean, Philippe et al

Poster (2016, October 18)

Marine magnoliophytes are major primary producers in coastal benthic habitats worldwide. They play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle (one of the more efficient blue carbon wells). Hence, it is ... [more ▼]

Marine magnoliophytes are major primary producers in coastal benthic habitats worldwide. They play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle (one of the more efficient blue carbon wells). Hence, it is necessary to characterise the eco-systemic services seagrass meadows provide. Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, the main Mediterranean seagrass species, has high foliar and belowground biomass production. Several methods have been used so far to measure its primary production (e.g., using incubation bells, optodes, biomass and elementary content measurements). A less used method relies on chlorophyll fluorescence measurements through the Pulse Amplitude Modulated (PAM) fluorometry method (Diving - PAM). In the framework of the STARECAPMED project, this study aimed to determine weekly to bimonthly over a one-year period the photosynthetic responses (Yield, relative Electron Transfer Rate, Rapid Light Curve) of P. oceanica. The survey was performed at 10m depth in a pristine meadow (Calvi, Corsica, France). To obtain reliable and comparable data, the protocol was standardized: measurements were performed on the convex middle part of the third leaf, at zenith, during shiny and calm weather days. Results showed that the plant displayed a well-marked seasonality. The mean ETR (μmol e- m-2 s-1 ) of the plant ranged from 2.17 in winter to 21.9 in summer and was linearly correlated throughout the year with the in situ irradiance (PAR irradiance taken perpendicularly to the surface, in the average leaf orientation). The ETR plateaus of the RLCs, ranging from 10.9 to 35.0, and their corresponding maximum PAR intensities evolved similarly. These results demonstrated both the adaptation and the seasonal plasticity of the meadow’s photosynthetic system. Overall the non-destructive PAM technique is a powerful and cost-effective tool to assess the primary productivity of seagrass meadows where other techniques (e.g. optodes) cannot be used and when direct sampling (e.g. biomass measurements) is not allowed. [less ▲]

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See detailDiversity, dynamics and trophic ecology of animal communities associated to Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile macrophytodetrital accumulation: synthesis of a ten year study
Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Borges, Alberto ULg; Champenois, Willy ULg et al

Poster (2016, October 17)

In the Mediterranean, Neptune grass Posidonia oceanica, produces a huge quantity of detrital biomass. These macrophytodetritus may accumulate in shallow waters, forming litter accumulations colonised by ... [more ▼]

In the Mediterranean, Neptune grass Posidonia oceanica, produces a huge quantity of detrital biomass. These macrophytodetritus may accumulate in shallow waters, forming litter accumulations colonised by abundant, yet understudied, animal communities. These accumulations are especially foraged by juvenile and adult fishes. Here, we aim to synthesize results obtained over the last ten years regarding diversity, dynamics and trophic ecology of associated meio- and macrofauna. Accumulations are found throughout the year but important seasonal and short-term variability in composition, quantity and physico-chemical parameters inside the accumulation is observed. Accumulations are dominated by respiration (litter degradation), however, primary production occurs at exposed surfaces (epiphytic production). Meio- and macrofauna have distinct traits in comparison to adjacent habitats (seagrass meadows or epilithic algae communities). A physico-chemical gradient occurs inside accumulations which partially defines assemblage composition and distribution. Meiofauna, in particular harpacticoid copepods, is diverse, abundant and composed of species from seagrass meadows, water column and sediment. In contrast, macrofaunal assemblages are simplified compared to the ones occurring in the seagrass meadows and are dominated by amphipods. Litter accumulations display a lower macrofaunal diversity than do seagrass meadows, but a higher abundance and animal biomass. Meio- and macrofauna show a high trophic diversity, dominated by ingestion and assimilation of epiphytes (macroalgae and, probably, detrivorous microbiota). Moreover, direct or indirect assimilation of carbon originating from seagrass detritus is demonstrated for many species. Although diverse trophic niches were observed, the assemblage showed a simplified trophic web structure compared to the seagrass meadows. Detritivorous organisms dominate this assemblage and are more abundant in the litter than in the living meadows. Consequently, according to its abundance and the fact it consumes directly and indirectly seagrass material, fauna associated to litter accumulation may play a significant role in the degradation and transfer to higher trophic level of detrital seagrass carbon. [less ▲]

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See detailInvestigating the potential of Cymodocea nodosa (Ucria) Ascherson as a coastal carbon sink coupling marine habitat cartographies and in situ nondestructive sampling
Abadie, Arnaud ULg; Richir, Jonathan ULg; Pieraccini, Riccardo ULg et al

Poster (2016, October)

Seagrass meadows are major carbon sinks, trapping about 10% of the total CO2 sequestrated in the oceans. In the Mediterranean, a major focus has been made on the climax species Posidonia oceanica (L ... [more ▼]

Seagrass meadows are major carbon sinks, trapping about 10% of the total CO2 sequestrated in the oceans. In the Mediterranean, a major focus has been made on the climax species Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, while other species remained little studied. In the framework of the STARECAPMED project, we thus chose to study Cymodocea nodosa (Ucria) Ascherson, a pioneer species with a rapid turnover and an expected high stocking capacity. Furthermore, the area covered by that species has been largely underestimated. In order to fill these two knowledge gaps, we first mapped all seagrass habitats within a Mediterranean bay (Calvi, Corsica, France) using side scan images, aerial photographs and ground truths. This cartography was followed by seasonal in situ density measurements and non-destructive shoot sampling (leaf cutting). Samplings were performed at different depths (5 to 23 m depth) in 6 contrasted stations (small patchy meadows to continuous beds) in order to cover all the existing facies of the bay. Elementary contents (carbon, nitrogen and stable isotope ratios) were measured in laboratory. This first work shows that C. nodosa meadows in Calvi Bay cover an area of 0.498 km2. Carbon stocks of the leaves reached 0.25 tons in winter and 2.72 tons in summer. Their nitrogen contents showed a marked seasonality with a maximum value of 0.020 mgN.m-2 in July and a minimum value of 0.005 mgN.m-2 in March. Some modifications in the trophic conditions of the water column at several stations were put in an obvious through the N stable isotopes values, mostly during the summer period. The actual underestimation of the area covered by that species in Calvi Bay has been properly mapped thanks to side scan sonar techniques revealing, together with elementary content analysis, its importance in the carbon balance of coastal areas. [less ▲]

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See detailPhenology of farmed seaweed Kappaphycus alvarezii infestation by the parasitic epiphyte Polysiphonia sp. in Madagascar
Tsiresy, Gaëtan; Preux, Jérémy; Lavitra, Thierry et al

in Journal of Applied Phycology (2016), 28(5), 29032914

epiphytic filamentous algae (EFA) disease has appeared in many regions of Madagascar. This infestation has dramatic consequences for local farmers as it alters drastically farmed algal growth and has ... [more ▼]

epiphytic filamentous algae (EFA) disease has appeared in many regions of Madagascar. This infestation has dramatic consequences for local farmers as it alters drastically farmed algal growth and has caused farming activity to collapse in many places. The present study characterizes the structure and ultrastructure of the stages observed in the life cycle of Polysiphonia sp. and gives the results of a monitoring of 18 months made in three Kappaphycus alvarezii farming sites in the southwest of Madagascar. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to analyze the ultrastructure of the cortex in infested K. alvarezii. Five stages have been observed in the life cycle of Polysiphonia sp.: the infesting stage that is a small dark spot observed at the surface of K. alvarezii, the male gametophyte, the female gametophyte, the tetrasporocysts, and the undifferentiated stage where individuals show normal thalli without sexual differentiation. EFA infestation was never recorded in Sarodrano, but often in the two other monitored villages (Lambohara, Tampolove). Prevalence of infestation varied from 40 to 100 % and the rates of infestation from 42 to 78 epiphytes cm−2. Prevalence of infestation showed significant seasonal variation and a between-sites variation; the rates of infestation were not significantly different between sites and did not vary with the period. The ways of infestation between K. alvarezii individuals in an infested field and from infested to healthy fields are discussed at the light of the present results. [less ▲]

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See detailAxIOM: Amphipod crustaceans from insular Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows
Michel, Loïc ULg; Sturaro, Nicolas ULg; Heughebaert, André et al

in Biodiversity Data Journal (2016), 4

Background The Neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, 1813, is the most widespread seagrass of the Mediterranean Sea. This foundation species forms large meadows that, through habitat and trophic ... [more ▼]

Background The Neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, 1813, is the most widespread seagrass of the Mediterranean Sea. This foundation species forms large meadows that, through habitat and trophic services, act as biodiversity hotspots. In Neptune grass meadows, amphipod crustaceans are one of the dominant groups of vagile invertebrates, forming an abundant and diverse taxocenosis. They are key ecological components of the complex, pivotal, yet critically endangered Neptune grass ecosystems. Nevertheless, comprehensive qualitative and quantitative data about amphipod fauna found in Mediterranean Neptune grass meadows remain scarce, especially in insular locations. New information Here, we provide in-depth metadata about AxIOM, a sample-based dataset published on the GBIF portal. AxIOM is based on an extensive and spatially hierarchized sampling design with multiple years, seasons, day periods, and methods. Samples were taken along the coasts of Calvi Bay (Corsica, France) and of the Tavolara-Punta Coda Cavallo Marine Protected Area (Sardinia, Italy). In total, AxIOM contains 187 samples documenting occurrence (1775 records) and abundance (10720 specimens) of amphipod crustaceans belonging to 72 species spanning 29 families. The dataset is available at http://ipt.biodiversity.be/resource?r=axiom. [less ▲]

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See detailFeeding ecology of Southern Ocean seastars inferred from stable isotopes ratios
Le Bourg, Baptiste ULg; Blanchard, Alice; Danis, Bruno et al

Poster (2016, September 05)

The Southern Ocean is currently subjected to strong and contrasted impacts of climate change. The Western Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions of the world, resulting in sea ice ... [more ▼]

The Southern Ocean is currently subjected to strong and contrasted impacts of climate change. The Western Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions of the world, resulting in sea ice cover decreases. Increasing seawater temperature and sea ice cover reduction in Western Antarctic Peninsula and associated regions will likely impact food web functioning through temperature-related changes in consumer physiology, modifications of benthic community structure (e.g. expansion of exogenous species such as predatory crabs), modifications of benthic-pelagic coupling intensity or disruption of benthic production. Asteroids (Echinoderms) are an important group of southern benthos. This group also has a great trophic variability and is potentially more resistant than other organisms to temperature changes (Peck et al. 2008). Consequently, they will be likely impacted by modifications in food webs functioning rather by direct warming and investigating their trophic ecology is necessary to infer how climate change will impact them. In this context, the aim of this study is to use stable isotopes ratios of C, N and S to infer sea stars trophic ecology. 16 species of sea stars spanning 10 different families sampled in multiple and contrasted habitats across Subantarctic (South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands, Falkland Islands) and Antarctic (South Shetland Islands, South Orkney Islands, Western Antarctic Peninsula) locations. In total, tegument samples from 213 specimens was analysed. Diversity and plasticity of asteroid diet along Southern Ocean coasts were explored through isotopic niche parametrisation (e.g. niche width and overlap between species and/or populations; Jackson et al. 2011). The data will also be used in a larger scale research project on the trophic ecology of Antarctic sea stars. This project will notably compare trophic resources supporting asteroid communities in Western Antarctic Peninsula, where sea ice cover is decreasing, and in Terre Adélie, where sea ice cover is increasing (Parkinson & Cavalieri 2012). Ultimately, this project will help understanding which ecological processes determine how an animal group copes with environmental modifications linked to climate change. [less ▲]

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See detailUnusually high sea ice cover influences resource use by benthic invertebrates in coastal Antarctica
Michel, Loïc ULg; Dubois, Philippe; Eleaume, Marc et al

Poster (2016, September 05)

Antarctica currently undergoes strong and contrasted impacts linked with climate change. While the West Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions in the world, resulting in sea ice ... [more ▼]

Antarctica currently undergoes strong and contrasted impacts linked with climate change. While the West Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions in the world, resulting in sea ice cover decrease, the sea ice cover of East Antarctica unexpectedly tends to increase, possibly in relation with changes in atmospheric circulation. Changes in sea ice cover are likely to influence benthic food web structure through modifications of benthic-pelagic coupling, disruption of benthic production and/or modifications of benthic community structure (i.e. resource availability for benthic consumers). Here, we studied shallow (0-20 m) benthic food web structure on the coasts of Petrels Island (Adélie Land, East Antarctica) during an event of unusually high spatial and temporal (two successive austral summers without seasonal break-up) sea ice cover. Using stable isotope ratios of C and N and the SIAR mixing model, we examined importance of 4 organic matter sources (benthic macroalgae, benthic biofilm, sympagic algae, suspended particulate organic matter) for nutrition of dominant primary consumers and omnivores. 14 invertebrate taxa including sessile and mobile polychaetes, gastropods, bivalves, sea stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers were studied. Our results indicate that most benthic invertebrates predominantly relied on sympagic algae. Despite its very high abundance, trophic role of benthic biofilm seemed limited. However, interpretation of data was complicated by the peculiar ecophysiological features of Antarctic invertebrates, whose very low metabolic rates could be associated to low isotopic turnover and long time to reach isotopic equilibrium with their food items. Resource use by consumers from Adélie Land markedly differed from literature data about invertebrate diet in coastal Antarctica, suggesting 1) important influence of increased sea ice cover on benthic food web structure and 2) high spatial and/or temporal variation in the feeding habits of studied organisms, likely linked with a high degree of trophic plasticity. Our results provide insights about how Antarctic benthic consumers, which have evolved in an extremely stable environment, might adapt their feeding habits in response to sudden man-driven changes in environmental conditions and trophic resource availability. [less ▲]

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See detailEVALUATION OF FISH EXPOSURE TO POP-LIKE (ORGANOTIN) COMPOUNDS IN SEPETIBA BAY (RIO DE JANEIRO STATE, BRAZIL) THROUGH HEPATIC TOTAL TIN CONCENTRATIONS
Paiva, TC; Schilithz, PF; Bisi, TL et al

in Organohalogen Compounds (2016, August)

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See detailEpiphytic bryozoans on Neptune grass – a sample-based data set
Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Heughebaert, André; Michel, Loïc ULg

in ZooKeys (2016), 606

Background The seagrass Posidonia oceanica L. Delile, commonly known as Neptune grass, is an endemic species of the Mediterranean Sea. It hosts a distinctive and diverse epiphytic community, dominated by ... [more ▼]

Background The seagrass Posidonia oceanica L. Delile, commonly known as Neptune grass, is an endemic species of the Mediterranean Sea. It hosts a distinctive and diverse epiphytic community, dominated by various macroalgal and animal organisms. Mediterranean bryozoans have been extensively studied but quantitative data assessing temporal and spatial variability have rarely been documented. In Lepoint et al. (2014a, b) occurrence and abundance data of epiphytic bryozoan communities on leaves of P. oceanica inhabiting the Revellata Bay (Corsica, Mediterranean Sea) were reported and trophic ecology of Electra posidoniae Gautier assessed. New information Here, we provide metadata information on data set discussed in Lepoint et al. 2014a and published on the GBIF portal as a sampling-event data set: http://ipt.biodiversity.be/resource?r=ulg_bryozoa&v=1.0). The data set, compared to Lepoint et al. 2014a, is enriched by data concerning species settled on Posidonia scales (dead petiole of Posidonia leaves, remaining after limb abscission). [less ▲]

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See detailTrophic interactions between two neustonic organisms: insights from Bayesian stable isotope data analysis tools
Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Laurent, Bernard; Gobert, Sylvie ULg et al

in Belgian Journal of Zoology (2016), 146(2), 123-133

The by-the-wind sailor Velella velella (Linnaeus, 1758) and its predator, the violet snail Janthina globosa (Swainson, 1822) are both floating neustonic organisms. Despite their global oceanic ... [more ▼]

The by-the-wind sailor Velella velella (Linnaeus, 1758) and its predator, the violet snail Janthina globosa (Swainson, 1822) are both floating neustonic organisms. Despite their global oceanic distribution and widespread blooms of V. velella in recent years, many gaps remain in our understanding about prey/predator interactions between these two taxa. Using stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen, we aimed to study the trophic relationship between V. velella and J. globosa and investigate diet variation of V. velella and J. globosa in relation to individuals’ size. Bayesian approaches were used to calculate isotopic niche metrics and the contribution of V. velella to the J. globosa diet. Our data showed that the isotopic niche of V. velella differed markedly from that of J. globosa. It was larger and did not overlap that of the J. globosa, indicating a more variable diet but at a lower trophic level than J. globosa. The isotopic niche of V. velella also varied according to the size class of the individual. Small individuals showed a larger isotopic niche than larger animals and low overlap with those of the larger individuals. J. globosa displayed very low isotopic variability and very small isotopic niches. In contrast, there were no isotopic composition nor isotopic niche differences between J. globosa of any size. This very low isotopic variability suggested that J. globosa is a specialist predator, feeding, at least in this aggregation, principally on V. velella. Moreover, outputs of a stable isotope mixing model revealed preferential feeding on medium to large (> 500 mm2) V. velella colonies. While our isotopic data showed the trophic relationship between V. velella and J. globosa, many questions remain about the ecology of these two organisms, demonstrating the need for more fundamental studies about neustonic ecosystems. [less ▲]

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See detailTrophic plasticity of Antarctic echinoids under contrasted environmental conditions
Michel, Loïc ULg; David, Bruno; Dubois, Philippe et al

in Polar Biology (2016), 39(5), 913-923

Echinoids are common members of Antarctic zoobenthos, and different groups can show important trophic diversity. As part of the ANT-XXIX/3 cruise of RV Polarstern, trophic plasticity of sea urchins was ... [more ▼]

Echinoids are common members of Antarctic zoobenthos, and different groups can show important trophic diversity. As part of the ANT-XXIX/3 cruise of RV Polarstern, trophic plasticity of sea urchins was studied in three neighbouring regions (Drake Passage, Bransfield Strait and Weddell Sea) featuring several depth-related habitats offering different trophic environments to benthic consumers. Three families with contrasting feeding habits (Cidaridae, Echinidae and Schizasteridae) were studied. Gut content examination and stable isotopes ratios of C and N suggest that each of the studied families showed a different response to variation in environmental and food conditions. Schizasteridae trophic plasticity was low, and these sea urchins were bulk sediment feeders relying on sediment-associated organic matter in all regions and/or depth-related habitats. Cidaridae consumed the most animal-derived material. Their diet varied according to the considered area, as sea urchins from Bransfield Strait relied mostly on living and/or dead animal material, while specimens from Weddell Sea fed on a mixture of dead animal material and other detritus. Echinidae also showed important trophic plasticity. They fed on various detrital items in Bransfield Strait, and selectivity of ingested material varied across depth-related habitats. In Weddell Sea, stable isotopes revealed that they mostly relied on highly 13C-enriched food items, presumably microbially-reworked benthic detritus. The differences in adaptive strategies could lead to family-specific responses of Antarctic echinoids to environmental and food-related changes. [less ▲]

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