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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 detailImportance de l’océan pour la régulation du climat de nos régions
Gobert, Sylvie ULg

Scientific conference (2016, November 29)

Mise en évidence des rôles de l'océan dans notre climat et conséquences des changements actuels

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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 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 detailEnvironmental monitoring: between science and decision-making
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Gobert, Sylvie ULg; Lejeune, Pierre et al

Scientific conference (2016, April 13)

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See detailDes indices scientifiques pour la gestion et la protection de milieu marin
Gobert, Sylvie ULg

Scientific conference (2016, March 24)

En 1972, L’Université de Liège inaugure STARESO: une station pour les recherches sous-marines et océanographiques. Posée sur la presqu’île de La Revellata, la station accueille depuis plus de 40 ans, des ... [more ▼]

En 1972, L’Université de Liège inaugure STARESO: une station pour les recherches sous-marines et océanographiques. Posée sur la presqu’île de La Revellata, la station accueille depuis plus de 40 ans, des scientifiques de notre Université et du monde entier. La Méditerranée est considérée comme un mini océan, modèle pour comprendre l’océan mondial. Elle abrite une très grande biodiversité terrestre et marine mais c’est aussi une des mers les plus touristique au monde, zone subissant la littoralisation, la surpêche, la pollution... Les indices pour la détection de la pollution et pour la gestion des milieux marins permettent de visualiser, de montrer de manière synthétique et rapide, l’état des écosystèmes. A partir de STARESO, zone encore protégée de l’activité humaine, des indices définissant l’état des écosystèmes (DCE), des indices paysagers (qualité et valeur patrimoniale), des indices de pollution (teneur en éléments traces) et de colonisation par des espèces envahissantes ont été mis au point, validés scientifiquement et proposés aux gestionnaires du milieu marin. Après une description du site d’étude, du contexte écologique, cet exposé présente ces indices, les limites et les champs d’application en milieu marin. [less ▲]

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See detailEstimating carbon fluxes in a Posidonia oceanica system: Paradox of the bacterial carbon demand
Velimirov, Branko; Lejeune, Pierre; Kirschner, A. et al

in Estuarine Coastal & Shelf Science (2016), 171

A mass balance ecosystemic approach, based on bacterial carbon demands and primary production data, was used to investigate if the bacterial community (freewater bacterioplankton and benthic bacteria of ... [more ▼]

A mass balance ecosystemic approach, based on bacterial carbon demands and primary production data, was used to investigate if the bacterial community (freewater bacterioplankton and benthic bacteria of the oxygenated sediment layer) could be sustained by the main primary producers (Posidonia oceanica and its epiphytes, adjacent macroalgae and phytoplankton communities; hereafter called the P. oceanica system) of a non-eutrophic Mediterranean bay. Unexpectedly, the findings of this study differed from previous works that used benthic incubation chamber and O2 optode methods. In this study, data were grouped in two categories, corresponding to two time periods, according to the seawater temperature regime (<18 °C or >18 °C): from May to October and from November to April. Between May and October, the produced benthic macrophyte tissues could not provide the carbon required by the bacteria of the oxygenated sediment layer, showing that the balance production of the investigated bay was clearly heterotrophic (i.e. negative) during this time period. In contrast, between November and April, benthic bacteria respiration nearly equated to carbon production. When integrating the open water carbon dynamics above the meadow in the model, a negative carbon balance was still observed between May and October, while a slight carbon excess was noticed between November and April. In the light of these findings, the carbon balance being negative on an annual basis, alternative carbon sources are required for the maintenance of the bacterial carbon production. [less ▲]

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See detailDistribution of inorganic and organic contaminants in the intertidal surface sediments along the Hugli River Estuary, eastern part of India
Das, Krishna ULg; Sarkar, Santosh; Thomé, Jean-Pierre ULg et al

Conference (2016, February 17)

Hooghly estuary and coastal environment in north east coast of India has been strongly affected by the rapid human settlements, intensive boating and tourist activities, deforestation and ongoing ... [more ▼]

Hooghly estuary and coastal environment in north east coast of India has been strongly affected by the rapid human settlements, intensive boating and tourist activities, deforestation and ongoing agricultural and aquacultural practices. The present work investigated trace elements (TEs, T-Hg, Al, V, Cr, Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Co, Ni, Ca, Sr, Li, Be, P, Mo, Ag, Cd, Sn, Sb, Ba, Pb, Bi, U, As, Se) and organohalogen compounds in surface sediment (top 0-10cm) considering 8 sampling sites along the Hugli River Estuary (HRE), India. The studied organic compounds include polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs), hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (HCHs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and metabolites (DDTs) and polybromodiphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Textural analyses of the sediment reveal an overall dominance of mud. All trace elements could be detected at variable concentrations in the following descending order: Al>Fe>Ca> P>Mn> Cu> Zn> Ba >V >Cr>Sr>Ni> Li >Co >Pb>As >Se >U >Be >Sn>Bi >Ag >Mo >Cd >Sb. A synchronous enrichment of majority of the elements were observed at the site Gangasagar (~100 km south megacity Calcutta), situated at the confluence of Hugli River and Bay of Bengal, which might be attributed to cumulative impact of the physicochemical processes and multiple anthropogenic sources. It is revealed that PCBs and DDTs were the dominant compounds among the organic pollutants accounting concentrations up to 23.5 ng.g-1 and 4.4 ng.g-1 respectively at the site Babughat, adjacent to the megacity Calcutta. The results have implications for pollution in complex estuarine environment in a meso-macrotidal setup where there is significant influx of sediments carrying huge load of inorganic and organic pollutants mainly due to rapid urbanization and industrialization. [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 detailTrace Elements in Marine Environments : Occurrence, Threats and Monitoring with Special Focus on the Costal Mediterranean
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Gobert, Sylvie ULg

in Journal of Environmental and Analytical Toxicology (2016), 6:1

Trace elements, as building blocks of matter, are naturally present in the environment. However, their extraction, production, use and release by men can lead to the increase of their environmental levels ... [more ▼]

Trace elements, as building blocks of matter, are naturally present in the environment. However, their extraction, production, use and release by men can lead to the increase of their environmental levels to concentrations that may be toxic for both men and the biota. The overall aim of this review is therefore to recall that trace elements remain contaminants of concern that still require scientific attention. Because marine coastal systems (and transitional environments in general) are particularly vulnerable to contamination processes, they deserve to be accurately monitored with quality indicator species. As an example, the 2 most widely quality indicator species used to assess the health status of the coastal Mediterranean are the seagrass Posidonia oceanica and the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis. In this review, after a short introduction on human pressures on the World Ocean and the coastal Mediterranean in particular (1), we will redefine the term trace element from an environmental perspective and discuss their accumulation and toxicity for men and the biota (2). We will consider the benefits of using biological indicators instead of water and sediment measurements to assess the health status of the marine environment (3), and more particularly as regards the accurate and complementary indicators that are seagrasses (4) and mussels (5). [less ▲]

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See detailAn ecophysiological discussion of trace element bioaccumulation in cultured Mytilus galloprovincialis
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Gobert, Sylvie ULg

in Belgian Journal of Zoology (2016), 145(1), 53-61

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See detailFrom mechanical to chemical impact of anchoring in seagrasses: the premises of anthropogenic patch generation in Posidonia oceanica meadows
Abadie, Arnaud ULg; Lejeune, Pierre; Pergent, Gérard et al

in Marine Pollution Bulletin (2016), 109(1), 61-71

Intensive anchoring of leisure boats in seagrass meadows leads to mechanical damages. This anthropogenic impact creates bare mat patches that are not easily recolonized by the plant. Several tools are ... [more ▼]

Intensive anchoring of leisure boats in seagrass meadows leads to mechanical damages. This anthropogenic impact creates bare mat patches that are not easily recolonized by the plant. Several tools are used to study human impacts on the structure of seagrass meadows but they are not able to assess the indirect and long term implication of mechanical destruction. We chose to investigate the possible changes in the substrate chemistry given contrasted boat impacts. Our observations show that hydrogen sulfide concentrations remain high at 15 and 20 m depth (42.6 µM and 18.8 µM) several months after the highest period of anchoring during the summer. Moreover, our multidisciplinary study reveals that anchoring impacts of large boats at 15 and 20 m depth can potentially change the seascape structure. By taking into account both structural and chemical assessments, different managing strategies must be applied for coastal areas under anthropogenic pressures. [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 detailFirst mesocosm experiments to study the impacts of ocean acidification on plankton communities in the NW Mediterranean Sea (MedSeA project)
Gazeau, F; Sallon, A; Maugendre, L et al

in Estuarine Coastal & Shelf Science (2016)

There is a growing international interest in studying the effects of ocean acidification on plankton communities that play a major role in the global carbon cycle and in the consumption of atmospheric CO2 ... [more ▼]

There is a growing international interest in studying the effects of ocean acidification on plankton communities that play a major role in the global carbon cycle and in the consumption of atmospheric CO2 via the so-called biological pump. Recently, several mesocosm experiments reported on the effect of ocean acidification on marine plankton communities, although the majority were performed in eutro- phic conditions or following nutrient addition. The objective of the present study was to perform two mesocosm experiments in the oligo- to meso-trophic Northwestern Mediterranean Sea during two seasons with contrasting environmental conditions: in summer 2012 in the Bay of Calvi (Corsica, France) and in winter 2013 in the Bay of Villefranche (France). This paper describes the objectives of these ex- periments, the study sites, the experimental set-up and the environmental and experimental conditions during the two experiments. The 20-day experiment in the Bay of Calvi was undoubtedly representative of summer conditions in the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea with low nutrient and chlorophyll a concentrations, warm waters and high surface solar irradiance. In contrast, the winter experiment, which was reduced to 12 days because of bad weather conditions, failed to reproduce the mesotrophic con- ditions typical of the wintertime in this area. Indeed, a rapid increase in phytoplankton biomass during the acidification phase led to a strong decrease in nitrate concentrations and an unrealistic N and P co- limitation at this period of the year. An overview of the 11 other papers related to this study and pub- lished in this special issue is provided. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of fish predation on Posidonia oceanica amphipod assemblages
Sturaro, Nicolas ULg; Gobert, Sylvie ULg; Pérez-Perera, Amanda et al

in Marine Biology (2016), 163

Amphipod assemblages that inhabit Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows are potentially relevant trophic resources for ichthyofauna. However, the effects of fish predation on amphipod assemblages in this ... [more ▼]

Amphipod assemblages that inhabit Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows are potentially relevant trophic resources for ichthyofauna. However, the effects of fish predation on amphipod assemblages in this system have received little attention. To address this gap in knowledge, experimental manipulations of predation intensity (exclusion and inclusion cages) were conducted at two sites in a Mediterranean marine protected area, where different levels of fish predation were expected to occur. We found that in the absence of predatory fishes (exclusion cages), total amphipod density and biomass were higher than in uncaged areas and partially controlled cages. At the species level, Caprella acanthifera and Iphimedia minuta responded to caging with increased abundance, while in most cases different species did not exhibit differences in density or biomass between treatments. The presence of one enclosed labrid fish predator (inclusion cages) resulted in a lower density and biomass of Aora spinicornis and a lower biomass of Phtisica marina, although total amphipod density and biomass were unchanged. In the inclusion cages, a size-frequency analysis revealed that predators mainly targeted large A. spinicornis and Apherusa chiereghinii individuals. Our results suggest that predation by fish may be an important factor in controlling amphipod abundances and biomasses in P. oceanica meadows. Overall, amphipod community composition was not affected by exclusion or inclusion of fish predators. However, some significant effects at the species level point to more complex interactions between some amphipods and fish. [less ▲]

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See detailDominant amphipods of Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows display considerable trophic diversity
Michel, Loïc ULg; Dauby, Patrick ULg; Gobert, Sylvie ULg et al

in Marine Ecology (2015), 36(4), 969-981

Gut content examination and trophic markers (fatty acids, stables isotopes of C and N) were combined to delineate the diet of the dominant species of amphipods from Mediterranean Posidonia oceanica ... [more ▼]

Gut content examination and trophic markers (fatty acids, stables isotopes of C and N) were combined to delineate the diet of the dominant species of amphipods from Mediterranean Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows and to highlight trophic diversity among this community. Our results indicate that, although all dominant species heavily relied on macroalgal epiphytes, considerable interspecific dietary differences existed. Carbon stable isotope ratios notably showed that some of the amphipod species favored grazing on epiphytes from leaves or litter fragments (Apherusa chiereghinii, Aora spinicornis, Gammarus aequicauda), while others like Dexamine spiniventris preferred epiphytes from rhizomes. The remaining amphipods (Caprella acanthifera, Ampithoe helleri and Gammarella fucicola) readily consumed both groups. In addition, SIAR modeling suggested that most species had a mixed diet, and relied on several food items. Fatty acid analysis and gut contents revealed that contribution of microepiphytic diatoms and of benthic and suspended particulate organic matter to the diet of amphipods were anecdotal. None of the examined species seemed to graze on their seagrass host (low 18:2(n-6) and 18:3(n-3) fatty acids contents), but G. aequicauda partly relied on seagrass leaf detritus, as demonstrated by the lesser 13C-depletion of their tissues. Overall, our findings suggest that amphipods, because of their importance in transfers of organic matter from primary producers and detritus to higher rank consumers, are key-items in P. oceanica associated food webs. [less ▲]

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See detailSTAtion of Reference and rEsearch on Change of local and global Anthropogenic Pressures on Mediterranean Ecosystems Drifts: The STARECAPMED project
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Abadie, Arnaud ULg; Binard, Marc ULg et al

Conference (2015, November 08)

The Marine and Oceanographic Research Station STARESO in the Calvi Bay, Corsica (France), is a unique tool in a preserved natural site that includes all the characteristic ecosystems of the Mediterranean ... [more ▼]

The Marine and Oceanographic Research Station STARESO in the Calvi Bay, Corsica (France), is a unique tool in a preserved natural site that includes all the characteristic ecosystems of the Mediterranean littoral. The station, established in 1970, has archived environmental data for decades. The STARECAPMED project, multidisciplinary, articulates itself around these two main features. Its objective is to understand how human activities can interact with the fundamental processes that govern the functioning of the different coastal ecosystems of a Mediterranean bay. The understanding of these interactions involves: (i) the identification of the anthropogenic pressures; (ii) the quantification of their impacts on the ecosystems; (iii) the prioritization of these impacts. STARECAPMED also aims to confirm the relevance of the use of the Calvi Bay as a reference in the study of local and global pressures and the changes they may cause on the structure and the functioning of Mediterranean coastal ecosytems. [less ▲]

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