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See detailTrophic ecology of Southern Ocean sea stars inferred from stable isotopes ratios of C and N
Le Bourg, Baptiste ULg; Blanchard, Alice; Danis, Bruno et al

Conference (2016, December 17)

The Southern Ocean undergoes strong and contrasted impacts of climate change. Increasing seawater temperature and sea ice cover reduction in Western Antarctic Peninsula and associated regions will likely ... [more ▼]

The Southern Ocean undergoes strong and contrasted impacts of climate change. Increasing seawater temperature and sea ice cover reduction in Western Antarctic Peninsula and associated regions will likely impact food web structure and function. Sea stars (Echinoderms: Asteroidea) are an important group of the Southern Ocean benthos. They typically have highly variable feeding habits and are potentially more resistant than other organisms to temperature changes. Consequently, they will likely be impacted by modifications of the food web rather than by direct warming. Investigating their trophic ecology is therefore necessary to infer how climate change will impact them. In this context, the aim of this study was to use stable isotopes ratios of C, N and S to infer sea stars trophic ecology. During austral summers 2006 and 2009, sea stars were sampled in Subantarctic and Antarctic locations, with most of the samples coming from South Shetland Islands and South Georgia. The isotopic niche (proxy of the trophic niche) associated to each sea star population was explored through SIBER (Stable Isotope Bayesian Ellipses in R) metrics. Stable isotope ratios of sea stars were clearly different between South Shetland Islands and South Georgia. Sea stars of South Shetland Islands had smaller isotopic niches than sea stars of South Georgia. The overlap between the isotopic niches of sea star species was also important in South Shetland Islands, while isotopic niches of South Georgia were well separated. Difference of niche width and overlap between the two regions may be the result of different environmental conditions. In South Shetland Islands, sea star species may exploit a common benthic community relying on organic matter released during sea ice summer melting. In contrast, South Georgia is an oligotrophic environment with no sea ice. As resources are more limited, a higher trophic segregation between sea stars may appear to limit competition. Ultimately, this project highlighted the importance of sea ice in the trophic ecology of Antarctic sea stars. Our results suggest that future reduction of sea ice extent in Western Antarctica may have deleterious effect on sea star populations. [less ▲]

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See detailWho would want to live in there? A history of Posidonia oceanica detritus accumulations, the associated invertebrate community, and its food web…
Remy, François ULg; Michel, Loïc ULg; Darchambeau, François ULg et al

Conference (2016, December 16)

Most seagrasses are rarely consumed directly by herbivore organisms. The "detrital pathway" thus represents a potentially important way of transfer of the seagrasses production to the coastal food webs ... [more ▼]

Most seagrasses are rarely consumed directly by herbivore organisms. The "detrital pathway" thus represents a potentially important way of transfer of the seagrasses production to the coastal food webs. The case of Posidonia oceanica is particularly interesting since up to 90% of its foliar primary production may constitute extensive and highly dynamic exported litter accumulations. Preliminary studies concerning these detritus accumulations suggest that an abundant community of vagile macro invertebrates (size > 500μm) lives inside them. We characterized for the first time this community in an exhaustive way (multi-site, seasonal and multi-year study), we linked the observed density and diversity variations to environmental parameters, but also described the trophic web these invertebrates compose. We sampled an abundant (up to 5000 organisms/m²) community composed of 115 species. We showed that crustaceans were massively dominant, followed by annelids and mollusks, and that one single amphipod species Gammarella fucicola represented from 20 to 85% of the whole sampled community. Observed variations appeared to be mostly linked to litter oxygen water concentration in a very species specific way. Most species were linked to no measured environmental parameter at all, but several dominant species were demonstrated (observation and in situ experimentation) to be linked positively or negatively to litter oxygen concentration. The described food web was composed of more than 3 trophic levels, indicating the presence of a trophic web composed of primary consumers/detritivore species, of omnivore species, but also of first and second order predators, each level occupying a distinct isotopic niche. From a specific point of view, we highlighted several different feeding preferences, with SIAR mixing model runs indicating that some species feed mostly on detrital material, other species feed on a mixture of detrital and algal material, other species feed on both animal and vegetal material and finally predator species feed exclusively on animal material. The fact that P. oceanica detritus constituted a non-negligible food source for some dominant species confirmed the importance of this macrofauna community as a key transfer link of seagrass organic matter from P. oceanica to the coastal food webs. [less ▲]

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See detailSediment carbon sink in low-density temperate eelgrass meadows (Baltic Sea)
Jankowska, Emilia; Michel, Loïc ULg; Zaborska, Agata et al

in Journal of Geophysical Research. Biogeosciences (2016), 121(12), 2918-2934

Seagrass meadows are highly productive habitats that can act as “blue carbon sinks” in coastal ecosystems by facilitating sedimentation and trapping particles. However, the magnitude and occurrence of ... [more ▼]

Seagrass meadows are highly productive habitats that can act as “blue carbon sinks” in coastal ecosystems by facilitating sedimentation and trapping particles. However, the magnitude and occurrence of these effects may be species and density dependent. The present study is the first estimation of seagrass sediment carbon sink in the temperate Zostera marina beds in the Baltic Sea. Several descriptors of organic matter characteristics, along with possible organic matter sources in the sediment were compared at vegetated and unvegetated bottoms. The 210Pb dating of the sediment has been used for accumulation rate assessment. The photopigments and POC concentrations in sediments were higher in vegetated bottoms. The SIAR (Stable Isotopes in R) mixing model based on nitrogen and carbon stable isotope values, indicated that higher percentages of organic matter originated from seagrass production in vegetated sediments (40–45%) compared to unvegetated ones (5–21%). The carbon stock in the upper 10 cm of the vegetated sediments ranged from 50.2 ± 2.2 to 228.0 ± 11.6 (g m−2), whereas the annual C accumulation amount from 0.84 ± 0.2 to 3.85 ± 1.2 (g m−2 yr−1). Our study shows that even the relatively weakly developed vegetation of the small temperate seagrass species enhance organic carbon concentration in the sediments. Estimated carbon stock was much lower than those reported for most of the seagrass meadows elsewhere, and the carbon burial rate was the lowest ever reported. Evidently, the global calculations of sediment carbon stock should be reconsidered by taking into account density and species-related variability. [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 detailAxIOM: Amphipod crustaceans from insular Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows
Michel, Loïc ULg; Sturaro, Nicolas ULg; Heughebaert, André et al

in Biodiversity Data Journal (2016), 4

Background The Neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, 1813, is the most widespread seagrass of the Mediterranean Sea. This foundation species forms large meadows that, through habitat and trophic ... [more ▼]

Background The Neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, 1813, is the most widespread seagrass of the Mediterranean Sea. This foundation species forms large meadows that, through habitat and trophic services, act as biodiversity hotspots. In Neptune grass meadows, amphipod crustaceans are one of the dominant groups of vagile invertebrates, forming an abundant and diverse taxocenosis. They are key ecological components of the complex, pivotal, yet critically endangered Neptune grass ecosystems. Nevertheless, comprehensive qualitative and quantitative data about amphipod fauna found in Mediterranean Neptune grass meadows remain scarce, especially in insular locations. New information Here, we provide in-depth metadata about AxIOM, a sample-based dataset published on the GBIF portal. AxIOM is based on an extensive and spatially hierarchized sampling design with multiple years, seasons, day periods, and methods. Samples were taken along the coasts of Calvi Bay (Corsica, France) and of the Tavolara-Punta Coda Cavallo Marine Protected Area (Sardinia, Italy). In total, AxIOM contains 187 samples documenting occurrence (1775 records) and abundance (10720 specimens) of amphipod crustaceans belonging to 72 species spanning 29 families. The dataset is available at http://ipt.biodiversity.be/resource?r=axiom. [less ▲]

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See detailFeeding ecology of Southern Ocean seastars inferred from stable isotopes ratios
Le Bourg, Baptiste ULg; Blanchard, Alice; Danis, Bruno et al

Poster (2016, September 05)

The Southern Ocean is currently subjected to strong and contrasted impacts of climate change. The Western Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions of the world, resulting in sea ice ... [more ▼]

The Southern Ocean is currently subjected to strong and contrasted impacts of climate change. The Western Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions of the world, resulting in sea ice cover decreases. Increasing seawater temperature and sea ice cover reduction in Western Antarctic Peninsula and associated regions will likely impact food web functioning through temperature-related changes in consumer physiology, modifications of benthic community structure (e.g. expansion of exogenous species such as predatory crabs), modifications of benthic-pelagic coupling intensity or disruption of benthic production. Asteroids (Echinoderms) are an important group of southern benthos. This group also has a great trophic variability and is potentially more resistant than other organisms to temperature changes (Peck et al. 2008). Consequently, they will be likely impacted by modifications in food webs functioning rather by direct warming and investigating their trophic ecology is necessary to infer how climate change will impact them. In this context, the aim of this study is to use stable isotopes ratios of C, N and S to infer sea stars trophic ecology. 16 species of sea stars spanning 10 different families sampled in multiple and contrasted habitats across Subantarctic (South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands, Falkland Islands) and Antarctic (South Shetland Islands, South Orkney Islands, Western Antarctic Peninsula) locations. In total, tegument samples from 213 specimens was analysed. Diversity and plasticity of asteroid diet along Southern Ocean coasts were explored through isotopic niche parametrisation (e.g. niche width and overlap between species and/or populations; Jackson et al. 2011). The data will also be used in a larger scale research project on the trophic ecology of Antarctic sea stars. This project will notably compare trophic resources supporting asteroid communities in Western Antarctic Peninsula, where sea ice cover is decreasing, and in Terre Adélie, where sea ice cover is increasing (Parkinson & Cavalieri 2012). Ultimately, this project will help understanding which ecological processes determine how an animal group copes with environmental modifications linked to climate change. [less ▲]

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See detailUnusually high sea ice cover influences resource use by benthic invertebrates in coastal Antarctica
Michel, Loïc ULg; Dubois, Philippe; Eleaume, Marc et al

Poster (2016, September 05)

Antarctica currently undergoes strong and contrasted impacts linked with climate change. While the West Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions in the world, resulting in sea ice ... [more ▼]

Antarctica currently undergoes strong and contrasted impacts linked with climate change. While the West Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions in the world, resulting in sea ice cover decrease, the sea ice cover of East Antarctica unexpectedly tends to increase, possibly in relation with changes in atmospheric circulation. Changes in sea ice cover are likely to influence benthic food web structure through modifications of benthic-pelagic coupling, disruption of benthic production and/or modifications of benthic community structure (i.e. resource availability for benthic consumers). Here, we studied shallow (0-20 m) benthic food web structure on the coasts of Petrels Island (Adélie Land, East Antarctica) during an event of unusually high spatial and temporal (two successive austral summers without seasonal break-up) sea ice cover. Using stable isotope ratios of C and N and the SIAR mixing model, we examined importance of 4 organic matter sources (benthic macroalgae, benthic biofilm, sympagic algae, suspended particulate organic matter) for nutrition of dominant primary consumers and omnivores. 14 invertebrate taxa including sessile and mobile polychaetes, gastropods, bivalves, sea stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers were studied. Our results indicate that most benthic invertebrates predominantly relied on sympagic algae. Despite its very high abundance, trophic role of benthic biofilm seemed limited. However, interpretation of data was complicated by the peculiar ecophysiological features of Antarctic invertebrates, whose very low metabolic rates could be associated to low isotopic turnover and long time to reach isotopic equilibrium with their food items. Resource use by consumers from Adélie Land markedly differed from literature data about invertebrate diet in coastal Antarctica, suggesting 1) important influence of increased sea ice cover on benthic food web structure and 2) high spatial and/or temporal variation in the feeding habits of studied organisms, likely linked with a high degree of trophic plasticity. Our results provide insights about how Antarctic benthic consumers, which have evolved in an extremely stable environment, might adapt their feeding habits in response to sudden man-driven changes in environmental conditions and trophic resource availability. [less ▲]

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See detailEpiphytic bryozoans on Neptune grass – a sample-based data set
Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Heughebaert, André; Michel, Loïc ULg

in ZooKeys (2016), 606

Background The seagrass Posidonia oceanica L. Delile, commonly known as Neptune grass, is an endemic species of the Mediterranean Sea. It hosts a distinctive and diverse epiphytic community, dominated by ... [more ▼]

Background The seagrass Posidonia oceanica L. Delile, commonly known as Neptune grass, is an endemic species of the Mediterranean Sea. It hosts a distinctive and diverse epiphytic community, dominated by various macroalgal and animal organisms. Mediterranean bryozoans have been extensively studied but quantitative data assessing temporal and spatial variability have rarely been documented. In Lepoint et al. (2014a, b) occurrence and abundance data of epiphytic bryozoan communities on leaves of P. oceanica inhabiting the Revellata Bay (Corsica, Mediterranean Sea) were reported and trophic ecology of Electra posidoniae Gautier assessed. New information Here, we provide metadata information on data set discussed in Lepoint et al. 2014a and published on the GBIF portal as a sampling-event data set: http://ipt.biodiversity.be/resource?r=ulg_bryozoa&v=1.0). The data set, compared to Lepoint et al. 2014a, is enriched by data concerning species settled on Posidonia scales (dead petiole of Posidonia leaves, remaining after limb abscission). [less ▲]

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See detailTrophic interactions between two neustonic organisms: insights from Bayesian stable isotope data analysis tools
Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Laurent, Bernard; Gobert, Sylvie ULg et al

in Belgian Journal of Zoology (2016), 146(2), 123-133

The by-the-wind sailor Velella velella (Linnaeus, 1758) and its predator, the violet snail Janthina globosa (Swainson, 1822) are both floating neustonic organisms. Despite their global oceanic ... [more ▼]

The by-the-wind sailor Velella velella (Linnaeus, 1758) and its predator, the violet snail Janthina globosa (Swainson, 1822) are both floating neustonic organisms. Despite their global oceanic distribution and widespread blooms of V. velella in recent years, many gaps remain in our understanding about prey/predator interactions between these two taxa. Using stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen, we aimed to study the trophic relationship between V. velella and J. globosa and investigate diet variation of V. velella and J. globosa in relation to individuals’ size. Bayesian approaches were used to calculate isotopic niche metrics and the contribution of V. velella to the J. globosa diet. Our data showed that the isotopic niche of V. velella differed markedly from that of J. globosa. It was larger and did not overlap that of the J. globosa, indicating a more variable diet but at a lower trophic level than J. globosa. The isotopic niche of V. velella also varied according to the size class of the individual. Small individuals showed a larger isotopic niche than larger animals and low overlap with those of the larger individuals. J. globosa displayed very low isotopic variability and very small isotopic niches. In contrast, there were no isotopic composition nor isotopic niche differences between J. globosa of any size. This very low isotopic variability suggested that J. globosa is a specialist predator, feeding, at least in this aggregation, principally on V. velella. Moreover, outputs of a stable isotope mixing model revealed preferential feeding on medium to large (> 500 mm2) V. velella colonies. While our isotopic data showed the trophic relationship between V. velella and J. globosa, many questions remain about the ecology of these two organisms, demonstrating the need for more fundamental studies about neustonic ecosystems. [less ▲]

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

in Polar Biology (2016), 39(5), 913-923

Echinoids are common members of Antarctic zoobenthos, and different groups can show important trophic diversity. As part of the ANT-XXIX/3 cruise of RV Polarstern, trophic plasticity of sea urchins was ... [more ▼]

Echinoids are common members of Antarctic zoobenthos, and different groups can show important trophic diversity. As part of the ANT-XXIX/3 cruise of RV Polarstern, trophic plasticity of sea urchins was studied in three neighbouring regions (Drake Passage, Bransfield Strait and Weddell Sea) featuring several depth-related habitats offering different trophic environments to benthic consumers. Three families with contrasting feeding habits (Cidaridae, Echinidae and Schizasteridae) were studied. Gut content examination and stable isotopes ratios of C and N suggest that each of the studied families showed a different response to variation in environmental and food conditions. Schizasteridae trophic plasticity was low, and these sea urchins were bulk sediment feeders relying on sediment-associated organic matter in all regions and/or depth-related habitats. Cidaridae consumed the most animal-derived material. Their diet varied according to the considered area, as sea urchins from Bransfield Strait relied mostly on living and/or dead animal material, while specimens from Weddell Sea fed on a mixture of dead animal material and other detritus. Echinidae also showed important trophic plasticity. They fed on various detrital items in Bransfield Strait, and selectivity of ingested material varied across depth-related habitats. In Weddell Sea, stable isotopes revealed that they mostly relied on highly 13C-enriched food items, presumably microbially-reworked benthic detritus. The differences in adaptive strategies could lead to family-specific responses of Antarctic echinoids to environmental and food-related changes. [less ▲]

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

Poster (2016, April 29)

Antarctica currently undergoes strong and contrasted impacts linked with climate change. While the West Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions in the world, resulting in sea ice ... [more ▼]

Antarctica currently undergoes strong and contrasted impacts linked with climate change. While the West Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions in the world, resulting in sea ice cover decrease, in some parts of East Antarctica sea ice cover tends to increase, possibly in relation with changes in atmospheric circulation. Changes in sea ice cover are likely to influence benthic food web structure through modifications of benthic-pelagic coupling, disruption of benthic production and/or modifications of benthic community structure (i.e. resource availability for benthic consumers). Here, we studied shallow (0-20 m) benthic food web structure on the coasts of Petrels Island (Adélie Land, East Antarctica) during an event of unusually high spatial and temporal (two successive austral summers without seasonal break-up) sea ice cover. Using stable isotope ratios of C, N and S, we examined importance of several organic matter sources (benthic macroalgae, benthic biofilm, sympagic algae, suspended particulate organic matter and penguin guano) for nutrition of over 20 taxa of benthic invertebrates (sponges, sea anemones, nemerteans, sessile and mobile polychaetes, gastropods, bivalves, sipunculids, pycnogonids, amphipods, sea stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers) spanning most present functional guilds. Our results provide insights about how Antarctic benthic consumers, which have evolved in an extremely stable environment, might adapt their feeding habits in response to sudden changes in environmental conditions and trophic resource availability. [less ▲]

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See detailResolving trophic links within temperate eelgrass meadows - use of fatty acids and stable isotopes in MixSIAR mixing model
Jankowska, Emilia; Wlodarska-Kowalczuk, Maria; De Troch, Marleen et al

Conference (2016, April 08)

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

Conference (2016, April 08)

Antarctica currently undergoes strong and contrasted impacts linked with climate change. While the West Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions in the world, resulting in sea ice ... [more ▼]

Antarctica currently undergoes strong and contrasted impacts linked with climate change. While the West Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions in the world, resulting in sea ice cover decrease, the sea ice cover of East Antarctica unexpectedly tends to increase, possibly in relation with changes in atmospheric circulation. Changes in sea ice cover are likely to influence benthic food web structure through modifications of benthic-pelagic coupling, disruption of benthic production and/or modifications of benthic community structure (i.e. resource availability for benthic consumers). Here, we studied shallow (0-20 m) benthic food web structure on the coasts of Petrels Island (Adélie Land, East Antarctica) during an event of unusually high spatial and temporal (two successive austral summers without seasonal break-up) sea ice cover. Using stable isotope ratios of C, N and S and the SIAR mixing model, we examined importance of several organic matter sources (benthic macroalgae, benthic biofilm, sympagic algae, suspended particulate organic matter and penguin guano) for nutrition of over 20 taxa of benthic invertebrates (sponges, sea anemones, nemerteans, sessile and mobile polychaetes, gastropods, bivalves, sipunculids, pycnogonids, amphipods, sea stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers) spanning most present functional guilds. Our results provide insights about how Antarctic benthic consumers, which have evolved in an extremely stable environment, might adapt their feeding habits in response to sudden man-driven changes in environmental conditions and trophic resource availability. [less ▲]

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

Conference (2016, February 12)

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

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

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

Poster (2016, February 12)

Echinoids are common members of Antarctic zoobenthos, and different groups can show important trophic diversity. As part of the ANT-XXIX/3 cruise of RV Polarstern, trophic plasticity of sea urchins was ... [more ▼]

Echinoids are common members of Antarctic zoobenthos, and different groups can show important trophic diversity. As part of the ANT-XXIX/3 cruise of RV Polarstern, trophic plasticity of sea urchins was studied in three neighbouring regions (Drake Passage, Bransfield Strait and Weddell Sea) featuring several depth-related habitats offering different trophic environments to benthic consumers. Three families with contrasting feeding habits (Cidaridae, Echinidae and Schizasteridae) were studied. Gut content examination and stable isotopes ratios of C and N suggest that each of the studied families showed a different response to variation in environmental and food conditions. Schizasteridae trophic plasticity was low, and these sea urchins were bulk sediment feeders relying on sediment-associated organic matter in all regions and/or depth-related habitats. Cidaridae consumed the most animal-derived material. Their diet varied according to the considered area, as sea urchins from Bransfield Strait relied mostly on living and/or dead animal material, while specimens from Weddell Sea fed on a mixture of dead animal material and other detritus. Echinidae also showed important trophic plasticity. They fed on various detrital items in Bransfield Strait, and selectivity of ingested material varied across depth-related habitats. In Weddell Sea, stable isotopes revealed that they mostly relied on highly 13C-enriched food items, presumably microbially-reworked benthic detritus. The differences in adaptive strategies could lead to family-specific responses of Antarctic echinoids to environmental and food-related changes. [less ▲]

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

in PeerJ PrePrints (2016, January 13), 4

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

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

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See detailPassive acoustic recording of Ophidion rochei calling activity in Calvi Bay (France)
Kever, Loïc ULg; Lejeune, Pierre; Michel, Loïc ULg et al

in Marine Ecology (2016)

Passive acoustic recording (PAR) systems are non-invasive and allow researchers to collect data on large spatial and temporal scales. Since fish sounds are species-specific and repetitive, PAR can provide ... [more ▼]

Passive acoustic recording (PAR) systems are non-invasive and allow researchers to collect data on large spatial and temporal scales. Since fish sounds are species-specific and repetitive, PAR can provide a large amount of data about spatio-temporal variation in fish distribution and behaviors. Ophidion rochei is a sand-dwelling species from Mediterranean and Black Sea meaning the behavior of this discreet nocturnal fish cannot be observed in the field. Fortunately, male O. rochei produce long multiple-pulsed calls that are easy to identify. The aim of this study was to determine that male calls are linked to reproduction behaviors. If so, PAR would allow a fine description of the seasonal and daily cycles in O. rochei reproduction. A hydrophone was deployed from 18 July 2011 to 21 June 2012 and from 7 June 2013 to 2 July 2013 on a sandy area (42.5801° N, 8.7285° E) in front of the STARESO research station (NW Corsica). Male sounds were obtained only at night from late spring to early fall. The annual sound production period corresponds to the reproductive season of O. rochei. Sound production followed diel cycles: it was sustained for the entire night at the beginning of the sound production season but limited to shorter periods in the evening during the second half of the season. These differences in daily and seasonal sound production tempo can be used in future recordings to make inter-annual comparisons and estimate the physiological state of the fish. [less ▲]

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