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See detailEarly colonization on Artificial Seagrass Units and on Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile leaves
Pete, Dorothée ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Bouquegneau, Jean-Marie ULg et al

in Belgian Journal of Zoology (2015), 145(1), 59-68

Many epiphytes grow on Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile leaves but early stages of that colonization are not well known. To study this early colonization without destroying the plant, Artificial Seagrass ... [more ▼]

Many epiphytes grow on Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile leaves but early stages of that colonization are not well known. To study this early colonization without destroying the plant, Artificial Seagrass Units (ASUs) were utilised. The first nine days of colonization by macroscopic eukaryotic organisms on natural P. oceanica leaves and on ASUs were studied. The capability of those ASUs to mimic P. oceanica in the long term was also evaluated. Indeed, early colonists of a substrate can influence the settling of later ones by “priority effects”. Thus if the pioneer community is the same on both substrates, they will more likely be the same after a longer exposure time. On both substrates, colonization began by the settling of crustose-calcareous algae and foraminiferans. The number of organisms increased more quickly on ASUs than on natural leaves but Shannon-Wiener diversity index was higher for P. oceanica leaves. The low colonization rate on natural leaves may have been due to different microclimatic conditions on the two substrates and to a less developed biofilm than on ASUs. The high diversity observed on natural leaves was mainly related to the presence of bryozoan ancestrulae, which were absent on ASUs. Different microhabitats on each substrate (different algae morphotypes) can explain this difference. Thus, at such an early colonization stage, pioneer communities were different on the two substrates, suggesting that later communities would be different too. However, ASUs could be used in environmental perturbation studies instead of natural leaves, thanks to their high colonization rate. [less ▲]

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See detailWhen microplastic is not plastic: the ingestion of artificial cellulose fibers by macrofauna living in seagrass macro-phytodetritus.
Remy, François ULg; Collard, France ULg; Gilbert, Bernard ULg et al

in Environmental Science & Technology (2015), 49

Dead leaves of the Neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, in the Mediterranean coastal zone, are colonized by an abundant “detritivorous” invertebrate community that is heavily predated by fishes ... [more ▼]

Dead leaves of the Neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, in the Mediterranean coastal zone, are colonized by an abundant “detritivorous” invertebrate community that is heavily predated by fishes. This community was sampled in August 2011, November 2011 and March 2012 at two different sites in the Calvi Bay (Corsica). Ingested artificial fibers (AFs) of various sizes and colors were found in 27.6% of the digestive tracts of the nine dominant species regardless of their trophic level or taxon. No seasonal, spatial, size or species-specific significant differences were revealed; suggesting that invertebrates ingest AFs at constant rates. Results showed that, in the gut contents of invertebrates, varying by trophic level, and across trophic levels, the overall ingestion of AFs was low (approximately 1 fiber per organism). Raman spectroscopy revealed that the ingested AFs were composed of viscose, an artificial, cellulose-based polymer. Most of these AFs also appeared to have been colored by industrial dyes. Two dyes were identified: Direct Blue 22 and Direct Red 28. The latter is known for being carcinogenic for vertebrates, potentially causing environmental problems for the P. oceanica litter community. Techniques such as Raman spectroscopy are necessary to investigate the particles composition, instead of relying on fragment size or color to identify the particles ingested by animals. [less ▲]

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See detailPOPs in free-ranging pilot whales, sperm whales and fin whales from the Mediterranean Sea: Influence of biological and ecological factors
Pinzone, Marianna ULg; Budzinski, Hélène; Tasciotti, Aurélie et al

in Environmental Research (2015), 142

The pilot whale Globicephala melas, the sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus and the fin whale Balaenoptera physalus are large cetaceans permanently inhabiting the Mediterranean Sea. These species are ... [more ▼]

The pilot whale Globicephala melas, the sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus and the fin whale Balaenoptera physalus are large cetaceans permanently inhabiting the Mediterranean Sea. These species are subjected to numerous anthropogenic threats, such as exposure to high levels of contaminants. Therefore, selected persistent organic pollutants, POPs (29 PCBs, 15 organochlorine compounds, nine PBDEs and 17 PCDD/Fs), were analysed in the blubber biopsies of 49 long-finned pilot whales, 61 sperm whales and 70 fin whales collected in the north-western Mediterranean Sea (NWMS) from 2006 to 2013. The contamination profile and species feeding ecology were combined through the use of stable isotopes. δ13C, δ15N values and POPs levels were assessed through IR-MS and GC-MS, respectively. To assess the toxic potency of the dioxin-like compounds, the TEQ approach was applied. δ15N values were 12.2 ± 1.3‰ for sperm whales, 10.5 ± 0.7‰ for pilot whales and 7.7±0.8‰ in fin whales, which positions sperm whales at higher trophic levels. δ13C of the two odontocetes were similar and amounted to −17.3±0.4‰ for sperm whales and −17.8±0.3‰ for pilot whales, whereas the result for fin whales reflected more depleted (−18.7±0.4‰). This outcome indicates a partial overlap in the feeding habits of toothed whales and confirms the differences in feeding behaviour of the mysticete. Pilot whales had higher concentrations than sperm whales for ΣPCBs (38666 ± 25731 ng.g-1 lw and 22849 ± 15566 ng.g-1 lw, respectively), ΣPBDEs (712±412 ng.g-1 lw and 347±173 ng.g-1 lw, respectively) and ΣDDTs (46081±37506 ng.g-1 lw and 37647±38518 ng.g-1 lw, respectively). Fin whales had the lowest values, which reflected its trophic position (ΣPCBs: 5721±5180 ng.g-1 lw, ΣPBDEs: 177±208 ng.g-1 lw and ΣDDTs: 6643±5549 ng.g-1 lw). Each species was characterized by large inter-individual variations that are more related to sex than trophic level. Males presented a higher contaminant burden than females. The discriminant analysis (DA) confirmed how DDTs and highly chlorinated PCBs could differentiate the three species. The pollutant concentrations of our species were significantly higher than both their southern hemisphere and North Atlantic counterparts. This result is possibly due to Mediterranean geomorphology, which influences the distribution and recycling of pollutants. Dioxin-like PCBs accounted for over 80% of the total TEQ. This study demonstrated (1) the pollutants of Mediterranean cetaceans often surpassed the estimated threshold toxicity value of 17000 ng.g−1 lw for blubber in marine mammals and (2) how the final pollutant burden in these animals is strongly influenced not only by trophic position but also by numerous other factors, including sex, age, body size and geographical distribution. [less ▲]

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See detailForaging habits of reef fishes associated with mangroves and seagrass beds in a Caribbean lagoon: A stable isotope approach
Vaslet, Amandine; Bouchon-Navarro, Yolande; Harmelin-Vivien, Mireille et al

in Ciencias Marinas (2015), 41(3), 217-232

Mangroves and seagrass beds represent suitable fish habitats as nurseries or feeding areas. This study was conducted in a Caribbean lagoon to assess the foraging habits of juvenile transient reef fishes ... [more ▼]

Mangroves and seagrass beds represent suitable fish habitats as nurseries or feeding areas. This study was conducted in a Caribbean lagoon to assess the foraging habits of juvenile transient reef fishes in these two habitats. Twelve fish species were sampled in coastal mangroves, an offshore mangrove islet, and a seagrass bed site, and stable isotope analyses were performed on fishes and their prey items. The SIAR mixing model indicated that transient fishes from both mangroves and seagrass beds derived most of their food from seagrass beds and their associated epiphytic community. Only a few species including planktivores (Harengula clupeola, Anchoa lyolepis) and carnivores (Centropomus undecimalis and small specimens of Ocyurus chrysurus) presented depleted carbon values, showing reliance on mangrove prey in their diets. Mangrove-derived organic matter contributed marginally to the diet of transient fishes, which relied more on seagrass food sources. Thus, mangroves seem to function more as refuge than feeding habitats for juvenile transient fishes. [less ▲]

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See detailMates but not sexes differ in migratory niche in a monogamous penguin species
Thiebot, Jean-Baptiste; Bost, Charles-André; Dehnhard, Nina et al

in Biology Letters (2015), 11

Strong pair bonds generally increase fitness in monogamous organisms, but may also underlie the risk of hampering it when re-pairing fails after the winter season. We investigated whether partners would ... [more ▼]

Strong pair bonds generally increase fitness in monogamous organisms, but may also underlie the risk of hampering it when re-pairing fails after the winter season. We investigated whether partners would either maintain contact or offset this risk by exploiting sex-specific favourable niches during winter in a migratory monogamous seabird, the southern rockhopper penguin Eudyptes chrysocome. Using light-based geolocation,we showthat although the spatial distribution of both sexes largely overlapped, pair-wise mates were located on average 595+260 km (and up to 2500 km) apart during winter. Stable isotope data also indicated a marked overlap between sex-specific isotopic niches (d13C and d15N values) but a segregation of the feeding habitats (d13C values) within pairs. Importantly, the tracked females remained longer (12 days) at sea than males, but all re-mated with their previous partners after winter. Our study provides multiple evidence that migratory species maywell demonstrate pair-wise segregation even in the absence of sex-specific winter niches (spatial and isotopic).We suggest that dispersive migration patterns with sex-biased timings may be a sufficient proximal cause for generating such a situation in migratory animals [less ▲]

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See detailA consensual Diving-PAM protocol to monitor Posidonia oceanica photosynthesis
Gobert, Sylvie ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Silva, João et al

in PeerJ (2015)

The seagrass Posidonia oceanica is widely recognized as an effective bioindicator of the health status of Mediterranean coastal waters. Chlorophyll fluorescence measurements, in particular through the ... [more ▼]

The seagrass Posidonia oceanica is widely recognized as an effective bioindicator of the health status of Mediterranean coastal waters. Chlorophyll fluorescence measurements, in particular through the Pulse Amplitude Modulated (PAM) fluorometry method, are performed to study aquatic plant ecology and vitality and to assess their responses to diverse stressful factors. However, the current understanding of P. oceanica photosynthetic responses to environmental stresses does only allow scientists to use the PAM-method as a complementary tool to other more-robust monitoring techniques. Consequently, a more in-depth knowledge of the natural causes of variability of P. oceanica photosynthetic responses are a prerequisite to any surveys relying on that time and cost-effective method. In the framework of the STARECAPMED project, this work aimed to determine the influence of several environmental (depth, daytime, season) and plant-specific characteristics (leaf age, leaf part analyzed, epiphytic coverage) on the photosynthetic responses (Y, ETR, RLC) of P. oceanica. Water temperature, irradiance and several biochemical parameters of the seagrass (chl.a, chl.b, C, N, P, micronutrients such as Fe, Cu) were measured as well. The field survey was performed in a pristine meadow in the Calvi Bay, Corsica. Environmental and plant-physiological characteristics deeply influenced P. oceanica photosynthetic responses. As an example, ETR decreased with depth, contrary to Y that mostly increased. ETR was lower in the basal part of leaf blade, and the epiphytic coverage of leaf tips slightly increased their ETR compared to leaf tips cleaned of epiphytes. Depth and leaf part-related variations in RLC were also observed. Because of this natural variability, it appears essential to develop a consensual protocol of chlorophyll fluorescence measurements to publish reliable and comparable results between studies. We therefore notably suggest to perform measurements close to midday, when photosynthetic responses are the highest; at 10-15 m depth in order to avoid, among others, low depth light irradiance variability; on the middle part of the 3rd-4th external leaf, well developed, highly photosynthetic, and little epiphyted. Finally, because P. oceanica fluorescence was correlated with N, P and chl.b leaf contents, the PAM-method could afterwards be used as bioindicator technique, according to the protocol proposed. [less ▲]

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See detailTrophodynamics of estuarine intertidal harpacticoid copepods based on stable isotope composition and fatty acid profiles
Cnudde, Clio; Moens, Tom; Werbrouck, Eva et al

in Marine Ecology. Progress Series (2015), 524

Trophic interactions at the basis of food webs, for instance between meiofauna, primary producers and bacteria, are key drivers of benthic energy fluxes. Yet both qualitative and quantitative information ... [more ▼]

Trophic interactions at the basis of food webs, for instance between meiofauna, primary producers and bacteria, are key drivers of benthic energy fluxes. Yet both qualitative and quantitative information about meiofaunal resource utilization under in situ conditions is scant. By means of natural stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen and of fatty acid (FA) profiles, we examined the variability of in situ resource utilization of a range of harpacticoid copepod species from 5 stations in an estuarine intertidal area. These stations, located in different habitats, differed in sediment granulometry, resource availability, presence/absence of vegetation and other environmental variables, as well as in copepod species composition. Our goal was to describe inter-specific differences among harpacticoid species, as well as spatio-temporal variability within species. Despite differences in resource availability between habitats, δ13C data clearly point at microphytobenthos (MPB) as the major carbon source to the harpacticoid assemblages at all 5 stations. Small differences in carbon isotopic ratios between co-occurring species indicate some degree of resource differentiation, whereas both the δ15N and FA composition suggest that several harpacticoid species obtain MPB carbon indirectly, perhaps through feeding on bacteria or ciliates. For a limited number of species, such as Paraleptastacus spinicauda, clear dietary contributions of suspended particulate matter and bacteria were found, and MPB appeared to have only a small or no contribution. Even in vegetated salt-marsh stations, Spartina anglica detritus did not appear to contribute to copepod diets. The δ13C of Cletodidae were highly depleted, reflecting a contribution of methane-derived carbon. [less ▲]

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See detailAssessment of contaminant levels and trophic relations at a World Heritage Site by measurements in a characteristic shorebird species
Schwemmer, Philipp; Covaci, Adrian; Das, Krishna ULg et al

in Environmental Research (2015), 136

The River Elbe is responsible for influxes of contaminants into the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site. We investigated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), oxychlordane (OxC), hexachlorobenzene (HCB ... [more ▼]

The River Elbe is responsible for influxes of contaminants into the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site. We investigated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), oxychlordane (OxC), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), hexachlorocyclohexanes (α-, β-, γ-HCHs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and its metabolites, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in blood and feathers from Eurasian oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus; n=28) at the Elbe and compared it with a non-riverine site about 90 km further north. (1) Mean levels of all contaminants in feathers and serum were significantly higher at the river (ƩPCBs: 27.6 ng/g feather, 37.0 ng/ml serum; ƩDDTs: 5.3 ng/g feather, 4.4 ng/ml serum) compared with the non-riverine site (ƩPCBs: 6.5 ng/g feather, 1.2 ng/ml serum; ƩDDTs: 1.4 ng/g feather, 0.5 ng/ml serum). Mean ƩHCH and HCB levels were <1.8 ng/g in feather and <1.8 ng/ml in serum at both sites. (2) Levels of most detectable compounds in serum and feathers were significantly related, but levels were not consistently higher in either tissue. (3) There was no significant relationship between trophic level in individual oystercatchers (expressed as δ15N) or the degree of terrestrial feeding (expressed as δ13C) and contaminant loads. (4) PBDEs were not detected in significant amounts at either site. The results of this study indicate that the outflow from one of Europe’s largest river systems is associated with significant historical contamination, reflected by the accumulation of contaminants in body tissues in a coastal benthivore predator. [less ▲]

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See detailMaternal transfer of organohalogenated compounds in sharks and stingrays
Weijs, Liesbeth; Briels, Nathalie; Adams, Douglas et al

in Marine Pollution Bulletin (2015)

Elasmobranchs can bioaccumulate considerable amounts of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and utilize several reproductive strategies thereby influencing maternal transfer of contaminants. This study ... [more ▼]

Elasmobranchs can bioaccumulate considerable amounts of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and utilize several reproductive strategies thereby influencing maternal transfer of contaminants. This study provides preliminary data on the POP transfer from pregnant females to offspring of three species (Atlantic stingrays, bonnethead, blacktip sharks) with different reproduction modes (aplacental, placental viviparity). Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) levels were generally higher than any other POPs. Stingrays and blacktip shark embryos contained the lowest POP concentrations while bonnetheads and the blacktip adult female had the highest concentrations. Results suggest that are more readily transferred from the mother to the embryo compared to what is transferred to ova in stingrays. Statistically significant differences in levels of selected POPs were found between embryos from the left and right uterus within the same litter as well as between female and male embryos within the same litter for bonnetheads, but not for the blacktip sharks. [less ▲]

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See detailBioaccumulation of organohalogenated compounds in sharks and rays from the southeastern USA
Weijs, Liesbeth; Briels, Nathalie; Adams, Douglas et al

in Environmental Research (2015), 137

Organohalogenated compounds are widespread in the marine environment and can be a serious threat to organisms in all levels of aquatic food webs, including elasmobranch species. Information about the ... [more ▼]

Organohalogenated compounds are widespread in the marine environment and can be a serious threat to organisms in all levels of aquatic food webs, including elasmobranch species. Information about the concentrations of POPs (persistent organic pollutants) and of MeO-PBDEs (methoxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers) in elasmobranchs is scarce and potential toxic effects are poorly understood. The aims of the present study were therefore to investigate the occurrence of multiple POP classes (PCBs, PBDEs, DDXs, HCB, CHLs) and of MeO-PBDEs in various elasmobranch species from different trophic levels in estuarine and marine waters of the southeastern United States. Overall, levels and patterns of PCBs, PBDEs, DDXs, HCB, CHLs and of MeO-PBDEs varied according to the species, maturity stage, gender and habitat type. The lowest levels of POPs were found in Atlantic stingrays and the highest levels were found in bull sharks. As both species are respectively near the bottom and at top of the trophic web, with juvenile bull sharks frequently feeding on Atlantic stingrays, these findings further suggest a bioaccumulation and biomagnification process with trophic position. MeO-PBDEs were not detected in Atlantic stingrays, but were found in all shark species. HCB was not found in Atlantic stingrays, bonnetheads or lemon sharks, but was detected in the majority of bull sharks examined. Comparison with previous studies suggests that Atlantic stingrays may be experiencing toxic effects of PCBs and DDXs on their immune system. However, the effect of these compounds on the health of shark species remains unclear. [less ▲]

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See detailPaleomagnetic and geochemical record from cores from the Sea of Marmara, Turkey: Age constraints and implications of sapropelic deposition on early diagenesis
Drab, Laureen; Carlut, Julie; Hubert, Aurelia ULg et al

in Marine Geology (2015), 360

We present results of a multi-proxy analysis of two sediment cores from the Marmara Sea. The cores were ana- lyzed using paleomagnetic and geochemical measurements. Two sapropels are documented in the ... [more ▼]

We present results of a multi-proxy analysis of two sediment cores from the Marmara Sea. The cores were ana- lyzed using paleomagnetic and geochemical measurements. Two sapropels are documented in the last 11 kyr and are recorded in several locations across the Marmara Sea. These two sapropels have contrasting magnetic prop- erties. The magnetic record is affected by intense early diagenesis; the most recent upper sapropelic layer has low remanence and susceptibility values. A record of paleomagnetic inclinations could still be isolated above the dia- genesis front and is compared with secular variation models. The lower sapropel is identified in the deep part of the oldest studied core (Klg07) and has distinct magnetic properties characterized by high remanence and sus- ceptibility values. Using the magnetic properties it is possible to constrain bottom water ventilation and recon- nection episodes between the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea following the sea level rise during the last glacial to inter-glacial transition. [less ▲]

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See detailMultiscale variability of amphipod assemblages in Posidonia oceanica meadows
Sturaro, Nicolas ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Vermeulen, Simon et al

in Journal of Sea Research (2015), 95

The study of spatial patterns is of ecological importance in order to understand the causes of the distribution and abundance of organisms, and it also provides valuable basis for management and ... [more ▼]

The study of spatial patterns is of ecological importance in order to understand the causes of the distribution and abundance of organisms, and it also provides valuable basis for management and conservation. Amphipod crustaceans are key organisms in seagrass ecosystems. However, little attention has been paid to the spatial scales at which amphipod assemblages may vary. We examined variability patterns of amphipod populations inhabiting Posidonia oceanica meadows, over spatial scales spanning four orders of magnitude (1 to 1000 metres) and for two consecutive years. This study reports the scales that contributed most to spatial variation of amphipod assemblages and explores the potential processes of the observed patterns, with particular emphasis on habitat features. The number of species, the diversity and the density of some species, exhibited high variation across years. Most species showed the highest spatial variation in density and biomass at small scales (~1 and 10 m). Based on density data, the structure of amphipod assemblages did not differ at any scales investigated. The patchiness that occurred at small scales may have been only weakly related to habitat features. Instead, we postulated that behavioural processes of amphipods were likely good explanatory factors. Although, the small scale spatial variability can be an important feature of amphipod assemblages in P. oceanica meadows, many patterns probably remained undetected as they may occur at scales smaller than those investigated. [less ▲]

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See detailPOPs in free-ranging pilot whales and sperm whales from the Mediterranean Sea: influence of ecological factors
Pinzone, Marianna ULg; Tasciotti, Aurelie; Ody, Denis et al

Conference (2014, December 13)

The pilot whale Globicephala melas and the sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus are large toothed whales, which permanently inhabit the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea, where they feed mainly on cephalopods ... [more ▼]

The pilot whale Globicephala melas and the sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus are large toothed whales, which permanently inhabit the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea, where they feed mainly on cephalopods. Here they are subjected to numerous anthropogenic threats such as exposure to high levels of contaminants. Selected persistent organic pollutants POPs (29PCBs, 15 organochlorine compounds, 9 PBDEs and 17 PCDD/Fs) were analyzed in blubber biopsies of 49 long-finned pilot whales and 61 sperm whales sampled in NWMS from 2006 to 2013. δ13C, δ15N values and POPs levels were assessed through IR-MS and GC-MS respectively. To assess the toxic potency of the dioxin-like compounds, the TEQ approach was applied. δ15N values were 12.2±1.3‰ for sperm whales and 10.5±0.7‰ for pilot whales, positioning sperm whales at higher trophic levels. δ13C instead was similar and amounted to −17.3±0.4‰ and −17.8±0.3‰ respectively. Pilot whales presented higher concentrations than sperm whales for ΣPCBs (38666±25731ng.g-1 lw and 22849±15566ng.g-1 lw respectively), ΣPBDEs (712±412ng.g-1 lw and 347±173ng.g-1 lw respectively) and ΣDDTs (46081±37506ng.g-1 lw and 37647±38518ng.g-1 lw respectively). Each species was characterized by large inter-individual variations that could probably be more related to sex than trophic level, with males presenting higher contaminant burden than females. The PCA analysis confirmed how p,p’DDT and p,p’DDE were influential in differentiating the two species, as a consequence of their migratory behavior and distribution. Pollutant concentrations of our species were significantly higher than both their Southern Hemisphere and North Atlantic counterparts, possibly due to the particular Mediterranean geomorphology, which influences pollutants distribution and recycle. Dioxin-like PCBs accounted for over 80% of the total TEQ. This study demonstrated (1) an important exposure to pollutants of Mediterranean toothed-whales, often surpassing the estimated threshold toxicity value of 17000ng.g−1 for blubber in marine mammals1; and (2) how the final pollutant burden in these animals is strongly influenced by numerous ecological factors. [less ▲]

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See detailAre amphipods influenced by Posidonia oceanica seagrass features?
Sturaro, Nicolas ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Michel, Loïc ULg et al

Poster (2014, December 12)

In the Mediterranean Sea, the seagrass Posidonia oceanica plays an important role as habitat for invertebrates, among which amphipod crustaceans represent a dense and diverse assemblage. Recent studies ... [more ▼]

In the Mediterranean Sea, the seagrass Posidonia oceanica plays an important role as habitat for invertebrates, among which amphipod crustaceans represent a dense and diverse assemblage. Recent studies have observed that amphipod density and biomass vary significantly on small spatial scales. This patchiness may be caused by different factors, such as recruitment, competition, and predation; however, habitat features, resulting in availability of resources such as food or shelter, may also be important in structuring these assemblages. This study examined the relationships between amphipod and habitat features in a P. oceanica meadow of the Revellata Bay (Corsica). The sampling was carried out in a continuous meadow colonizing soft substrates at constant depth in August 2008. We quantified the density and biomass of each amphipod species, as well as habitat features, namely shoot density, leaf and epiphyte biomasses, percentage of leaves per shoot having alteration marks and litter biomass. Using multiple regression analyses, few weak significant relationships were identified between amphipod and habitat features. The number of species and the diversity appeared unaffected by the measured habitat features. In contrast, total amphipod density and biomass were generally positively related to the shoot density and epiphyte biomass of P. oceanica, respectively. Overall, habitat features accounted for 0-30% of the variation in the densities of the amphipod species. A distance-based linear model explained a total of 25.8% of the variation of the amphipod assemblages (of which 18.6% was explained by litter biomass). Amphipods are therefore influenced by some P. oceanica features, but only weakly. Furthermore, some features appeared to influence individual species whereas others functioned at the assemblage level. The main challenge remains in evaluating the scale at which these features act and the way in which they influence the structure of assemblages. [less ▲]

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See detailColonization of a new habitat by copepods: An in situ experiment
Mascart, Thibaud ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Biondo, Renzo ULg et al

Conference (2014, December 12)

Colonization of new habitats by a biological community is conspicuous and this dynamic process is one of the architectural forces of the biogeographical distribution we know today. Within the meiofauna ... [more ▼]

Colonization of new habitats by a biological community is conspicuous and this dynamic process is one of the architectural forces of the biogeographical distribution we know today. Within the meiofauna (<1mm), copepods (Crustacea) have successfully adapted to nearly every ecosystem and heir colonization power of permanent habitats is therefore well-established. However, few studies tackled the colonization of new naturally occurring provisional habitats, which are of ecological interest since they are rich in organic material, structurally complex and devoted of native fauna. Hence, the present study investigated the copepod colonization of provisional macrophytodetritus (mainly composed of senescent leaves and drift macroalgae) accumulated on bare sand patches inside a Mediterranean Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadow. General motive of colonization such as food and shelter are well-defined. However, little is known regarding the mode of the colonization and source pool of the associated colonists. Here, an in situ experiment was deployed in order to understand the mode of copepod’s colonization to fauna deprived macrophytodetritus. The objectives were: (1) assessing the adjacent colonist’s source pool (i.e. sediment, water column or P. oceanica canopy), (2) investigating the speed of settlement and (3) quantifying the species composition of the colonizing copepods. In summary: (1) species from every source pool actively colonized the macrophytodetritus through the water column and through the sediment-macrophytodetritus interface. (2) The initial settlement occurred within the first 24 hours. (3) The species composition showed to be different than the source’s composition. After 24h, the composition was similar to 45% of the P. oceanica, 28% of the water column and 25% of the sediments. After 96h, the composition was similar to 24% of the P. oceanica, 13% of the water column and 10% of the sediments. Indicating an evolution towards a macrophytodetritus copepod specific community composed of a mixture of the adjacent habitats first colonizers. [less ▲]

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See detailSeasonal sampling and stable isotopes use to delineate seagrass phytodetritus macrofauna trophic ecology: baseline variation or actual diet change?
Remy, François ULg; Mascart, Thibaud ULg; Dauby, Patrick ULg et al

Conference (2014, December 12)

In Mediterranean exported seagrass macrophytodetritus accumulations, a diverse (more than 130 species) and abundant (up to 4900 id.m-2) macrofauna assemblage is found alongside meiofauna, microalgae ... [more ▼]

In Mediterranean exported seagrass macrophytodetritus accumulations, a diverse (more than 130 species) and abundant (up to 4900 id.m-2) macrofauna assemblage is found alongside meiofauna, microalgae, fungi and bacteria. Macrophytodetritus are mainly composed of poorly digestible yet highly colonized material: the dead leaves of the very productive (300 to 2000 g dry wt m-2 yr-1) endemic seagrass Posidonia oceanica. A key role may be played by macrofauna, and more particularly by litter vagile macroinvertebrates (invertebrates > 500µm), in the degradation, enrichment and carbon transfer from P. oceanica to coastal food webs. Indeed, results of gut content observations of the most abundant species show that even if only a few of these species ingest a large proportion of P.oceanica dead leaves fragments, most of the others ingest a small but non-negligible part, suggesting a potential role of the whole community in the mechanical fragmentation of the dead leaves. Mediterranean exported macrophytodetritus accumulations are very dynamic habitats with very variable food availability, quality, and composition. Such an inconstant habitat may result in drastic modifications of the invertebrate community but also of its trophic structure and ecology. To test this hypothesis of influence of pulsed availability, quality and composition of food sources on the vagile macrofauna diet, we took seasonal samples in Calvi Bay (Corsica, 8°45’E; 42°35’N), at two sites between August 2011 and May 2012. Gut content observations and C/N/S stable isotope analysis of bulk tissues were conducted on both the macrofauna and their potential food sources. Significant seasonal and spatial differences of ingestion patterns of the most abundant species were emphasised as were differences of isotopic signatures. “SIAR” Bayesian mixing model and “SIBER” package were used to analyse isotopic data and determine if these differences were due to actual diet modifications or only to baselines isotopic composition variations. [less ▲]

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See detailWhen microplastic is not microplastic: ingestion of artificial cellulose fibers by macrofauna living in seagrass macrophytodetritus
Collard, France ULg; Remy, François ULg; Gilbert, Bernard ULg et al

Poster (2014, December 12)

Vagile macroinvertebrates associated with Posidonia oceanica exported litter were sampled in August 2011, November 2011 and March 2012 in the Calvi Bay (Corsica), near the STARESO oceanographic station ... [more ▼]

Vagile macroinvertebrates associated with Posidonia oceanica exported litter were sampled in August 2011, November 2011 and March 2012 in the Calvi Bay (Corsica), near the STARESO oceanographic station. Contents of digestive tracts were analyzed and fibers of various sizes and colors were found. Fibers were found in 27.6% of the digestive tracts in the nine dominant species. No correlation was found between number of fibers and taxonomic or trophic level. There were no seasonal or spatial preferences and thus we hypothesize that the organisms ingest these fibers randomly throughout the year. Analyses performed with a Raman spectroscope showed that these fibers were composed of cellulose associated with a coloring agent following the fiber color. Red fibers were dyed with the Direct Red 28, blue fibers were dyed with Direct Blue 22. Analyses by a scanning electron microscope (SEM) showed that cellulose fibers had the particular morphology of artificial cellulose fibers called: viscose. Our SEM analyses were compared to literature. This comparison assessed that fibers found in digestive tracts were made of viscose. In a first approach, viscose fibers looked like microplastic fibers because of their color and shape. However, it appeared that these fibers were made of artificial cellulose which is very different than plastic in terms of impacts and fate in the organisms. This study highlights the importance of physico-chemical analyses such as Raman spectroscopy and SEM to certainly identify the composition of particles ingested by organisms. From an ecological point of view, the red coloring agent is known to be carcinogenic in mammals and fish. Consequently, this pollution could provoke an environmental problem for the P. oceanica litter vagile macrofauna. [less ▲]

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See detailStable isotope ratios reveal trophic niche partitioning among hermit crabs from tropical polyspecific seagrass meadows
Michel, Loïc ULg; Frederich, Bruno ULg; Lavitra, Thierry et al

Poster (2014, December 12)

Polyspecific seagrass meadows are ubiquitous features of tropical coastal zones. These ecosystems are of critical ecological importance, and provide a wide range of socio-economical services to local ... [more ▼]

Polyspecific seagrass meadows are ubiquitous features of tropical coastal zones. These ecosystems are of critical ecological importance, and provide a wide range of socio-economical services to local populations. Meadows however undergo multiple threats linked to human activities (increased nutrient input, overfishing, invertebrate overharvesting, etc.). It is currently hard to assess how seagrass meadows could respond to anthropogenic impacts due to poor knowledge of their functional ecology. In an effort to unravel trophic interactions ruling the food webs associated to seagrass beds of the Toliara Great Reef (SW Madagascar), we studied resource segregation between two common Diogenidae hermit crabs (Dardanus scutellatus and Ciliopagurus tricolor) using stable isotope ratios. Interspecific differences were noted in isotopic composition of carbon (δ13C = -12.22 ± 1.73 ‰ for D. scutellatus, δ13C = -14.55 ± 0.73 ‰ for C. tricolor), nitrogen (δ15N = 4.73 ± 0.53 ‰ for D. scutellatus, δ15N = 5.20 ± 0.61 ‰ for C. tricolor) and sulfur (δ34S = 14.08 ± 2.32 ‰ for D. scutellatus, δ34S = 16.73 ± 1.49 ‰ for C. tricolor), suggesting that the two species do not feed on the same items. In addition, SIBER (Stable Isotope Bayesian Ellipses in R) modeling based on C and N data clearly showed that no overlap was present in the core isotopic niches of the two species. It also indicated that the isotopic niche of D. scutellatus was greater than the one of C. tricolor, implying that the former feeds on a greater number of items than the latter. While hermit crabs are generally considered as omnivorous species, this study highlighted differences in the foraging ecology of D. scutellatus and C. tricolor. These differences could help to limit competition for food between these two species, and facilitate their coexistence in Malagasy seagrass beds. [less ▲]

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See detailTrophic connectivity between two ecosystems: supplies of kelp litter to coastal soft substrata
Vandenbosch, François; Davoult, Dominique; Dauby, Patrick ULg et al

Scientific conference (2014, December 04)

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