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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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See detailUse of stable isotope ratios to delineate coastal benthic food web structure in Adélie Land (East Antarctica)
Michel, Loïc ULg; Dubois, Philippe; Eleaume, Marc et al

Poster (2016, April 29)

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, in some parts of East Antarctica sea ice cover 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, N and S, we examined importance of several organic matter sources (benthic macroalgae, benthic biofilm, sympagic algae, suspended particulate organic matter and penguin guano) for nutrition of over 20 taxa of benthic invertebrates (sponges, sea anemones, nemerteans, sessile and mobile polychaetes, gastropods, bivalves, sipunculids, pycnogonids, amphipods, sea stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers) spanning most present functional guilds. 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 changes in environmental conditions and trophic resource availability. [less ▲]

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See detailImpacts of unusually high sea ice cover on Antarctic coastal benthic food web structure
Michel, Loïc ULg; Dubois, Philippe; Eleaume, Marc et al

Conference (2016, April 08)

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, N and S and the SIAR mixing model, we examined importance of several organic matter sources (benthic macroalgae, benthic biofilm, sympagic algae, suspended particulate organic matter and penguin guano) for nutrition of over 20 taxa of benthic invertebrates (sponges, sea anemones, nemerteans, sessile and mobile polychaetes, gastropods, bivalves, sipunculids, pycnogonids, amphipods, sea stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers) spanning most present functional guilds. 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 detailThe dark side of the black caiman: spatial and temporal trophic niche variations
Caut, Stéphane; Bacques, Mathieu; François, Vincent et al

Poster (2016, April 05)

A floating scientific platform was built in the Kaw marshes (French Guiana) to study this unique and still unknown ecosystem. Preliminary research has shown this pond is seasonally colonized by a large ... [more ▼]

A floating scientific platform was built in the Kaw marshes (French Guiana) to study this unique and still unknown ecosystem. Preliminary research has shown this pond is seasonally colonized by a large population of black caimans and represents the most important breeding site for many rare bird species. At the top of the food web, the black caiman is the largest neotropical predator and a particularly threatened crocodilian species, which implies that they have a major structuring role within the swamp ecosystem. Our preliminary study during the dry and wet season revealed important seasonal variations in the structure of the Agami pond population and the temporal presence of large caimans during the wet season (rarely observed in the Kaw marshes). Thus, coupling isotopic analysis (controlled diet and field studies) and different monitoring approaches (behavioral, microchip marking and satellite Argos tracking), we aim to conduct a detailed study of the Agami pond black caiman population: (i) to study the structure of the population and its variation over time, (ii) to estimate the intra- and inter-annual movements of individual caimans and identify potential feeding, reproductive and nesting areas in the Kaw marsh and (iii) to estimate this top predator’s role on the marsh’s ecological functioning and survival throughout the year. For this purpose, we will compare different field periods during the wet and dry seasons characterized by different hydrological and ecological patterns. This new information will help predict species response to disturbance, which is a prerequisite to effective conservation plan management involving local people and wildlife administrations. Finally, by coupling Argos tracking and stable isotopes, we will collect significant and valuable data for future applications at a global scale. [less ▲]

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See detailContrasted accumulation patterns of persistent organic pollutants and mercury in sympatric tropical dolphins from the south-western Indian Ocean
Dirtu, Alin; Malavannan, Govindan; Das, Krishna ULg et al

in Environmental Research (2016), 146

Due to their high trophic position and long life span, small cetaceans are considered as suitable bioindicators to monitor the presence of contaminants in marine ecosystems. Here, we document the ... [more ▼]

Due to their high trophic position and long life span, small cetaceans are considered as suitable bioindicators to monitor the presence of contaminants in marine ecosystems. Here, we document the contamination with persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and total mercury (T-Hg) of spinner (Stenella longirostris, n=21) and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus, n=32) sampled from the coastal waters of La Réunion (south-western Indian Ocean). In addition, seven co-occurring teleost fish species were sampled and analyzed as well. Blubber samples from living dolphins and muscle from teleosts were analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT and metabolites (DDTs), chlordanes (CHLs), hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Methoxylated PBDEs (MeO-PBDEs), reported as having a natural origin, were also analyzed. T-Hg levels were measured in blubber and skin biopsies of the two living dolphin species. δ13C and δ15N values were determined in skin of the dolphins and in the muscle of teleosts. For PCBs, HCHs and T-Hg, concentrations were significantly higher in T. aduncus than in S. longirostris. For other POP levels, intra-species variability was high. MeO-PBDEs were the dominant compounds (55% of the total POPs) in S. longirostris, while PCBs dominated (50% contribution) in T. aduncus. Other contaminants showed similar profiles between the two species. Given the different patterns of POPs and T-Hg contamination and the stable isotope composition observed among analyzed teleosts, dietary and foraging habitat preferences possibly explain the contrasted contaminant profiles observed in the two dolphin species. Levels of each class of contaminants were significantly higher in males than females. Despite their spatial and temporal overlap in the waters of La Réunion, S. longirostris and T. aduncus are differently exposed to contaminant accumulation. [less ▲]

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See detailThe secret life of a Mediterranean seagrass litter macrofauna community : a history of oxygen
Remy, François ULg; Michel, Loïc ULg; Sturaro, Nicolas ULg et al

Conference (2016, February 12)

Most of the foliar primary production of Posidonia oceanica, a major Mediterranean seagrass, sheds in autumn and is exported from the meadow to adjacent areas to form "Exported Macrophytodetritus ... [more ▼]

Most of the foliar primary production of Posidonia oceanica, a major Mediterranean seagrass, sheds in autumn and is exported from the meadow to adjacent areas to form "Exported Macrophytodetritus Accumulations", EMAs. These EMAs are a habitat, shelter and feeding place for an abundant and diverse community of macrofauna. Being very dynamic places and potentially playing a role of transition compartment between water column and sediment, EMAs present high variability in term of physicochemical conditions and more specifically in term of oxygen concentration. Mild to severe hypoxic periods (2 - 0.01 mL O2.L-1) can be observed in situ at different moments of the year, and this variability thus potentially play a structuring role on the macrofauna community. During this study, our main specific questions were (1) Does oxygen stratification occur inside EMAs? (2) If present, how long does it take to observe this stratification? (3) Is the macrofauna impacted and do the dominant species occupy defined positions inside the different micro-habitats? To assess the importance of this impact, an experimental study was conducted in October 2014 near the STARESO oceanographic station (Calvi, Corsica) using an original "layer-sampling" design. The experimental construction was put underwater inside an EMA for 48 hours at a depth of 8m. Samples were collected (N=8) in a 20cm thick EMA using "sealed" boxes to sample every 5cm, from the sediment, to the water column. Oxygen, nutrients and of course the litter itself (containing the macrofauna) were sampled carefully to make sure no exchange occurred between the 4 different layers. After data analysis, the assessment was clear: oxygen stratification occurred in less than 48h and oxygen level inside the layer close to the sediment experienced a fast decrease below the hypoxia threshold (2 mL O2.L-1). Diversity was highly impacted, showing a clear positive link with oxygen concentration. Macrofauna also appeared to follow this oxygen stratification but this response was very species specific. Some species didn't follow oxygen and are present in every layer and most of them were strongly positively linked to oxygen concentration. But a few (Nebalia strausi and Athanas nitescens) were strongly negatively linked to oxygen concentration and were present only in the more hypoxic layers. This experimentation thus confirmed our in situ observations. Oxygen stratification occurred quickly (< 48h) when EMAs were experiencing calm weather. This stratification observed from the water column to the sediment was very marked. Diversity and abundance of most abundant macrofauna species were drastically influenced by this stratification, showing the importance of these micro-habitats in structuring of this macrofauna community. [less ▲]

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

Poster (2016, February 12)

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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See detailTrophic diversity of seagrass detritus copepods: A consequence of species-specific specialization or a random diet?
Mascart, Thibaud; De Troch, Marleen; Remy, François ULg et al

in PeerJ PrePrints (2016, January 13), 4

One of the major ecological research questions is understanding how biodiversity influences ecosystem functioning. Unravelling interspecific feeding preferences of organisms with overlapping trophic ... [more ▼]

One of the major ecological research questions is understanding how biodiversity influences ecosystem functioning. Unravelling interspecific feeding preferences of organisms with overlapping trophic niches will give part of the answer. Subsequently, the present study displays the trophic diversity of a benthic copepod community in a North-Western Corsican Posidonia oceanica seagrass ecosystem. These seagrass meadows are often interrupted by bare sand patches serving as deposition area for loose detritus. The accumulated macrophytodetritus, mainly derived from senescent macrophytes, harbour a diverse community of Harpacticoida (Crustacea, Copepoda). The most abundant copepods (i.e. three harpacticoids and one calanoid, belonging to different eco-morphological types) and their potential food sources (i.e. macrophytodetritus, epiphytic biofilm and suspended organic matter) were analysed for stable isotope ratios (δ13C, δ15N) and total lipids content. The results revealed a harpacticoid copepod feeding preference towards the epiphytic biofilm, while calanoid copepods preferred suspended organic matter. Additionally, a species-specific composition variation revealed finer partitioning of food resources (e.g. different micro-organisms present in the biofilm like bacteria, diatoms, fungi) over time.In conclusion, results showed species-specific food preferences, resulting in trophic niche and resource partitioning. Every eco-morphological type seems to cope in different ways with temporal fluctuations of food sources to comply with their nutritional needs. This illustrates the high resilience of the copepod community present in macrophytodetritus accumulations. Moreover, our results underlined the importance of multiple biomarker species-specific analysis in trophic ecology studies, especially in complex and dynamic environments offering numerous food items to consumers. [less ▲]

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See detailTemporal evolution of sand corridors in a Posidonia oceanica seascape: a 15-years study
Gobert, Sylvie ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Pelaprat, Corinne et al

in Mediterranean Marine Science (2016), 17(3), 777-784

The spatial dynamic of Posidonia oceanica meadows is a process extending over centuries. This paper shows evidence of the natural dynamics of P. oceanica “shifting intermattes” or “sand corridors” ... [more ▼]

The spatial dynamic of Posidonia oceanica meadows is a process extending over centuries. This paper shows evidence of the natural dynamics of P. oceanica “shifting intermattes” or “sand corridors” (hereafter SCs): unvegetated patches within a dense meadow. We studied features and temporal evolution (2001-2015) of 5 SCs in the Calvi Bay (Corsica) at 15 m depth and followed the characteristics the P. oceanica meadow lining the edge of patches. All SCs show a similar morphology. The eroded side is a vertical edge where roots, rhizomes and sediments are visible, when on the opposite colonized side, the sand is at the same level as the continuous meadow. The vertical edge reaches a maximum height of 160 cm and is eroded by orbital bottom currents with a maximum speed of 12 cm.s-1, the erosion speed ranging from 0.6 to 15 cm.y-1. SCs progress toward the coastline with a mean speed of 10 cm.y-1, the rate of colonization by P. oceanica shoots ranging from 1.5 to 21 cm.y-1. We calculated that the studied SCs would reach the coastline within 500 to 600 years. We finally discuss the implication of such dynamic in the framework of meadows’ colonization assessment and the seascape dynamic. [less ▲]

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See detailOntogenic variation and effect of collection procedure on leaf biomechanical properties of Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile
de los santos, Carmen; Vicencio, Barbara; Lepoint, Gilles ULg et al

in Marine Ecology (2016)

Leaf mechanical traits are important to understand how aquatic plants fracture and deform when subjected to abiotic (currents or waves) or biotic (herbivory attack) mechanical forces. The likely ... [more ▼]

Leaf mechanical traits are important to understand how aquatic plants fracture and deform when subjected to abiotic (currents or waves) or biotic (herbivory attack) mechanical forces. The likely occurrence of variation during leaf onto- geny in these traits may thus have implications for hydrodynamic performance and vulnerability to herbivory damage, and may be associated with changes in morphologic and chemical traits. Seagrasses, marine flowering plants, consist of shoot bundles holding several leaves with different developmental stages, in which outer older leaves protect inner younger leaves. In this study we examined the long-lived seagrass Posidonia oceanica to determine ontogenic variation in mechanical traits across leaf position within a shoot, representing different devel- opmental stages. Moreover, we investigated whether or not the collection proce- dure (classical uprooted shoot versus non-destructive shoot method: cutting the shoot without a portion of rhizome) and time span after collection influence mechanical measurements. Neither collection procedure nor time elapsed within 48 h of collection affected measurements of leaf biomechanical traits when sea- grass shoots were kept moist in dark cool conditions. Ontogenic variation in mechanical traits in P. oceanica leaves over intermediate and adult developmen- tal stages was observed: leaves weakened and lost stiffness with aging, while mid- aged leaves (the longest and thickest ones) were able to withstand higher break- ing forces. In addition, younger leaves had higher nitrogen content and lower fiber content than older leaves. The observed patterns may explain fine-scale within-shoot ecological processes of leaves at different developmental stages, such as leaf shedding and herbivory consumption in P. oceanica. [less ▲]

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See detailIs individual consistency in body mass and reproductive decisions linked to individual specialization in foraging behavior in a long-lived seabird?
Dehnhard, Nina; Eens, Marcel; Sturaro, Nicolas ULg et al

in Ecology and Evolution (2016)

Individual specialization in diet or foraging behavior within apparently generalist populations has been described for many species, especially in polar and temperate marine environments, where resource ... [more ▼]

Individual specialization in diet or foraging behavior within apparently generalist populations has been described for many species, especially in polar and temperate marine environments, where resource distribution is relatively predictable. It is unclear, however, whether and how increased environmental variability – and thus reduced predictability of resources – due to global climate change will affect individual specialization. We determined the within- and among-individual components of the trophic niche and the within-individual repeatability of d13C and d15N in feathers and red blood cells of individual female southern rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome) across 7 years. We also investigated the effect of environmental variables (Southern Annular Mode, Southern Oscillation Index, and local sea surface temperature anomaly) on the isotopic values, as well as the link between stable isotopes and female body mass, clutch initiation dates, and total clutch mass. We observed consistent red blood cell d13C and d15N values within individuals among years, suggesting a moderate degree of within-individual specialization in C and N during the prebreeding period. However, the total niche width was reduced and individual specialization not present during the premolt period. Despite significant interannual differences in isotope values of C and N and environmental conditions, none of the environmental variables were linked to stable isotope values and thus able to explain phenotypic plasticity. Furthermore, neither the within-individual nor among-individual effects of stable isotopes were found to be related to female body mass, clutch initiation date, or total clutch mass. In conclusion, our results emphasize that the degree of specialization within generalist populations can vary over the course of 1 year, even when being consistent within the same season across years. We were unable to confirm that environmental variability counteracts individual specialization in foraging behavior, as phenotypic plasticity in d13C and d15N was not linked to any of the environmental variables studied. [less ▲]

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