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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 (in press)

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 detailApplication of stable isotopes in trophic ecology: importance of TEF and seasonal baseline for robust interpretations.
Remy, François ULg; Darchambeau, François ULg; Dauby, Patrick ULg et al

Conference (2015, April 02)

Nitrogen, carbon and sulfur stable isotopes are very powerful tools for trophic ecologists to delineate food webs of various ecosystems. More recently… the use of mixing models has exponentially increased ... [more ▼]

Nitrogen, carbon and sulfur stable isotopes are very powerful tools for trophic ecologists to delineate food webs of various ecosystems. More recently… the use of mixing models has exponentially increased to give a more specific vision of organism’s diets and trophic relationships. Two case studies will be presented to give a summary of what’s been done in Liège Oceanology Lab to improve our interpretation of stable isotopes results. First is an experimental calculation of the Trophic Enrichment Factors (TEFs) for one dominant detritivorous species of Mediterranean amphipod inhabiting seagrass detritus: Gammarus aequicauda (Martynov, 1931). This experimental study was planned after a strange result of the SAIR mixing model, giving results opposed to all observations and knowledge we had about this species. Thus, the impact of 3 very different food sources (amphipod powder, algae power, seagrass powder) on the turnover rate of C and N isotopic compositions was tested, and afterwards TEFs for C and N for each source were calculated. Animal food source showed to be the most effectively assimilated with a fast turnover rate while seagrass and algae showed very slow assimilation. TEFs calculations showed to be interesting because TEFs seem not to depend on the natural feeding type of the invertebrate but more on the type of food source. Animal source showed carnivorous TEFs values while seagrass and algae source showed typical detritivorous values. SIAR results with these new custom values gave more coherent values highlighting the major importance of TEFs values for mixing models data interpretation. Second is a simple question: are the seasonal isotopic composition variations observed for many seagrass detritus macrofauna species due to actual diet changes, or only to isotopic baseline shift of the food sources? Macrofauna and all potential food sources were sampled near STARESO Oceanographic Station (Corsica, 8°45’E; 42°35’N) in 2011-2012 at each season at two different sites. SIBER software runs with C and N isotopic data showed spatio-temporal isotopic variations at community, interspecific and intraspecific level. SIBER did not gave us information about the origin of these changes, but coupled with SIAR and our custom TEFs, species actually showing drastic changes of diet were identified, while others seem to reflect more a source baseline isotopic composition shift. Working at specific level is compulsory for fine conclusions. These two case studies highlight the importance of mixing model use and of accurate TEF values to run these models properly to draw robust and reliable conclusions using stable isotopic data. [less ▲]

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See detailApplications of stable isotopes in environmental studies at the University of Liege
Sturaro, Nicolas ULg; Borges, Alberto ULg; Das, Krishna ULg et al

Poster (2015, March 26)

Measurement and use of stable isotope ratios have a long history at the University of Liege (Belgium). Since at least 30 years, applications of stable isotopes in marine ecosystems have been developed ... [more ▼]

Measurement and use of stable isotope ratios have a long history at the University of Liege (Belgium). Since at least 30 years, applications of stable isotopes in marine ecosystems have been developed within the Laboratory of Oceanology and, more recently, within the Chemical Oceanography Unit. In the Laboratory of Oceanology, one research axis is the measurement of stable isotope composition (C, N, S) in organic matter to delineate trophic web structure and to study animal diet, their trophic niches and their alteration by human activities. This methodology has been successively applied worldwide in different habitats and ecosystems (marine, freshwater, terrestrial) in temperate and tropical areas. Mediterranean food web and fish trophic ecology have received a particular attention. Coupling between trophic ecology and ecotoxicology is another area of investigation. This has been applied mainly to marine vertebrates and freshwater ecosystems. Stable isotope labelling is also used in our laboratory to study and quantify various ecological processes such as inorganic nitrogen incorporation and trophic transfers. The laboratory facilities, renewed in 2012 and managed by Dr. Gilles Lepoint, are composed of an elemental analyser (EA, vario MICRO cube, Elementar) and a gas chromatography (GC, Agilent) coupled to an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS, Isoprime 100). The GC is also equipped with a quadrupole mass spectrometer. In 2014, the Chemical Oceanography Unit, headed by Dr. Alberto Borges, has acquired and implemented an off-axis cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) for the measurements of δ15Nα, δ15Nβ, δ18O of N2O. This enables characterization of the N2O origin in a variety of aquatic environments including groundwater in Wallonia, rivers and lakes in Wallonia and Africa, coastal environments (Scheldt estuary, Lake Grevelingen, North Sea), Mediterranean seagrass beds, and Antarctic and Arctic sea-ice. [less ▲]

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See detailUse of C, N and S stable isotope ratios to highlight resource segregation among hermit crabs from tropical seagrass meadows
Michel, Loïc ULg; Frederich, Bruno ULg; Lavitra, Thierry et al

Poster (2015, March 26)

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. C, N and S stable isotope ratios of bulk muscle tissue were measured via CF-EA-IRMS (Elementar Vario MicroCube EA coupled to an Isoprime 100 MS). 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 detailHow do harpacticoid copepods colonize detrital seagrass leaves?
Mascart, Thibaud ULg; Agusto, Laura; Lepoint, Gilles ULg et al

in Marine Biology (2015), 162(5), 929-943

An experiment was carried out investigating the colonization ability and specific pattern of copepods towards a provisional benthic habitat. Since copepods are known to disperse passively and actively ... [more ▼]

An experiment was carried out investigating the colonization ability and specific pattern of copepods towards a provisional benthic habitat. Since copepods are known to disperse passively and actively, the experiment aimed to investigate the pool of colonizers of macrophytodetritus and the species-specific active colonization pathways. The experiment was performed in a Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica meadow on defaunated macrophytodetritus accumulations (mainly dead seagrass leaves) for two time intervals (24 h and 96 h). Active colonization by copepods, independently of their adjacent potential source pool habitat (bare sandy sediments, P. oceanica canopy, water column and macrophytodetritus) occurred within 24 h. Natural densities (as in the control treatments) were only reached by active colonization through the water column. Both neither diversities nor species composition of natural macrophytodetritus were ever reached by one single migratory pathway, therefore only a combination of interstitial migration and water column migration can explain the species occurrence under natural condition. Moreover, every potential adjacent source pool habitat, contributed species to the newly colonized macrophytodetritus. However, the main colonizers were mostly species with good swimming capabilities. The diverse pool of species present in the newly colonized macrophytodetritus underlines the complex communities and dispersion capabilities of copepods. Hence, macrophytodetritus possesses the potential ability to be a colonizer source pool for every adjacent habitat and thus behaves as a copepod hub for the entire seagrass ecosystem. [less ▲]

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See detailSeasonal variability of meiofauna, especially harpacticoid copepods, in Posidonia oceanica macrophytodetritus accumulations
Mascart, Thibaud ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Deschoemaeker, Silke et al

in Journal of Sea Research (2015), 95

The overall aim of this study was (1) to assess the diversity and density of meiofauna taxa, especially harpacticoid copepod species, present within accumulated seagrass macrophytodetritus on unvegetated ... [more ▼]

The overall aim of this study was (1) to assess the diversity and density of meiofauna taxa, especially harpacticoid copepod species, present within accumulated seagrass macrophytodetritus on unvegetated sand patches and (2) to elucidate the community structure of detritus-associated harpacticoid copepods in relation to natural temporal variability of physico-chemical characteristics of accumulations. This was investigated in a Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile seagrass ecosystem in the northwest Mediterranean Sea (Bay of Calvi, Corsica, 42°35’N, 8°43’E) using a triplicate macrophytodetritus core field sampling in two contrasting sites over the four seasons of 2011. Meiofauna higher taxa consisted of 50% Copepoda, which 87% belonged to the Harpacticoida order. Nematoda was the second most abundant taxa. The copepod community displayed a wide variety of morphologically similar and ecologically different species (i.e. mesopsammic, phytal, phytal-swimmers, planktonic and parasitic). The harpacticoid copepod community followed a strong seasonal pattern with highest abundances and species diversity in May-August, revealing a link with the leaf litter epiphyte primary production cycle. Aside from the important role in sheltering, housing and feeding potential of macrophytodetritus, a harpacticoid community BEST analysis demonstrated a positive correlation with habitat complexity and a negative correlation with water movements and P. oceanica leaf litter accumulation. [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 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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See detailTrace element kinetics in caged Mytilus galloprovincialis
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Donnay, Annick et al

Poster (2014, December)

Trace elements (TEs) remain contaminants of concern because of their persistence, ability to concentrate in organisms and toxicity. The Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis Lamarck, 1819 is a ... [more ▼]

Trace elements (TEs) remain contaminants of concern because of their persistence, ability to concentrate in organisms and toxicity. The Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis Lamarck, 1819 is a relevant bioindicator of TE coastal contamination. However, little research has studied the combined influence of environmental condition changes and physiological processes on their kinetics in that species. Caged M. galloprovincialis were thus immerged in 2 contrasted pristine Corsican (France) coastal environments, the semi-enclosed Diane salty pond and the open Calvi Bay, from February to June 2011. Mussels were regularly sampled to study the kinetics of 19 TEs in their flesh; dissolved and particulate TEs were also monitored. The primary production and the water physico-chemical variables were measured, and meteorological data were purchased from Météo-France. TE kinetics in mussels differed between sites. Mussel spawning, a temperature and saline-induced physiological process that occurred about 10 days later in the Diane pond, was followed by a short time increase of TE levels in the mussel flesh. Mussel contamination also evolved according to changes of their respective environmental TE levels. Raining events temporary led, in the Diane pond, to the water enrichment with TEs, nutrients and detrital material, to peaks of primary production and to the increase of TE concentrations in the mussel flesh. This step by step evolution of TE levels in the environment and mussels was afterwards followed by a rapid return to initial conditions. In the open Calvi Bay, these fast and balanced kinetics were not so obvious, because of the rapid dilution of environmental constrain effects in the Bay. Mussels are often used as bioindicator in estuaries and coastal enclosed meadows with rapidly changing environmental conditions. In such conditions, the influence of the environment on TE kinetics in mussels must be considered, in addition to physiological processes, when monitoring the TE coastal contamination. [less ▲]

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