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

Conference (2016, February 12)

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

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

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

in PeerJ PrePrints (2016, January 13), 4

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

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

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See detailThe role of meiofauna in energy transfer in a Mediterranean seagrass bed (Calvi, Corsica)
MASCART, THIBAUD; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Borges, Alberto ULg et al

Poster (2010, October 22)

Meiofaunal communities of the endemic Mediterranean seagrass, Posidonia oceanica, were sampled in five different habitats characterised by different degradation level of macrophytodetritus. In term of ... [more ▼]

Meiofaunal communities of the endemic Mediterranean seagrass, Posidonia oceanica, were sampled in five different habitats characterised by different degradation level of macrophytodetritus. In term of abundance, harpacticoid copepods represent half of the community followed by nematodes and polychaetes. Two meiofauna communities were distinguished: (1) a benthic community of meiofauna, living in the sediment or on highly fragmented macrophytodetritus, and (2) a foliar, epiphytal community associated with seagrass leaves and low fragmented macrophytodetritus leaves. They differed significantly in their harpacticoid copepod family composition. The benthic community consisted mainly of families like Tisbidae and Miraciidae, while the epiphytal community was dominated by families like Thalestridae and Laophontidae. These differences in composition may also imply a differential functional diversity. Trophic biomarkers (stable isotopes, fatty acids) were used to identify the major sources of organic matter contributing to the copepods diet and hence to gain insight in the overall carbon flux. Harpacticoid copepods showed preferences to feed upon the epiphytal biofilm community composed of bacteria, diatoms, fungi and microalgae. Copepods used the seagrass and detritus material merely as substrate, but were attracted to the biofilm rather than the plant material which is rich in structural carbohydrates difficult to assimilate by animals (i.e. lignin, cellulose, ...). Since harpacticoid copepods showed to use different sources of carbon, unravelling the contribution of each of them and the role of the degradation level of the detritus for food selectivity is the next step forward. [less ▲]

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