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Meiofauna enhances organic matter mineralization in soft sediment ecosystems
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marine Ecology)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marine Ecotoxicology)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marine Ecology)
2010 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Organic matter mineralization in soft sediments is a key process mediated by benthic fauna and bacteria that is crucial for sustaining primary production in aquatic systems. Few studies have examined the effect of meiofauna on the degradation of labile organic matter in soft sediments. Here we investigated the influence of meiofauna on the benthic decomposition of a radiolabelled diatom bloom by measuring the production of 14CO2 in a laboratory microcosm. Mineralization of the diatom bloom material was significantly enhanced when meiofauna was present in higher abundances, with cumulative mineralization values after 17 days being on average 50% greater in the treatment with high meiofauna abundance compared to sediments with low meiofauna abundance. Our experiment shows that meiofauna can enhance the mineralization of organic matter, probably by stimulating the activity of sediment bacterial community, indicating that positive biological interactions such as facilitation from meiofauna are important for ecosystem processes in soft sediments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010.
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-38803OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-38803DiVA: diva2:315428
Available from: 2010-04-29 Created: 2010-04-29 Last updated: 2010-04-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Trophic ecology of meiofauna: Response to sedimentation of phytoplankton blooms in the Baltic Sea
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Trophic ecology of meiofauna: Response to sedimentation of phytoplankton blooms in the Baltic Sea
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Marine soft sediments are the second largest habitat on Earth. How animal communities in this habitat are structured is a central issue in marine ecology. Food is an important limiting factor for many benthic populations, and settling organic matter from phytoplankton blooms is of vital importance to them. This thesis discusses the effects of settling phytoplankton blooms on benthic meiofaunal populations in the Baltic Sea and how species interactions affect the fate of settled organic matter. Eutrophication in the Baltic Sea has altered phytoplankton community dynamics, with indications that toxin-producing cyanobacterial blooms may reach the benthos in greater quantity than previously. Paper I found that meiofauna feed on settled cyanobacteria, yet suffer no increase in mortality. However, growth of meiofauna is significantly slower on a diet of cyanobacteria than when fed spring bloom diatoms, indicating that the studied cyanobacteria are nutritionally poor (Paper II). In Paper III we found that the presence of macrofauna reduces the access of meiofauna to settled organic matter, presumably through interference competition that increases when several macrofauna species are present. We also found that meiofaunal populations influence the provision of ecosystem services by benthic microbes. Paper IV shows that when meiofauna is abundant, mineralization of organic matter is positively affected, presumably through facilitation mechanisms. In contrast, paper V reports that degradation of the contaminant naphtalene decreases significantly at high meiofauna abundance.

In conclusion, this thesis shows that type and quality of organic matter available, as well as competition from macrofauna, affect how meiofauna grow and incorporate nutrients. Furthermore we found meiofauna to be an important functional component of the benthic ecosystem, with marked effects on ecosystem processes such as nutrient regeneration and contaminant degradation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, 2010
Keyword
Meiofauna, Cyanobacteria, competition, facilitation, ecosystems processes
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Marine Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-38809 (URN)978-91-7447-083-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-05-27, Högbomsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript. Paper 5: In press.

Available from: 2010-05-05 Created: 2010-04-29 Last updated: 2017-10-04Bibliographically approved

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