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Diversity of larger consumers enhances interference competition effects on smaller competitors
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
2011 (English)In: Oecologia, ISSN 0029-8549, E-ISSN 1432-1939, Vol. 166, no 2, 337-347 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Competition between large and small species for the same food is common in a number of ecosystems including aquatic ones. How diversity of larger consumers affects the access of smaller competitors to a limiting resource is not well understood. We tested experimentally how species richness (0-3 spp.) of benthic deposit-feeding macrofauna changes meiofaunal ostracods' incorporation of fresh organic matter from a stable-isotope-labeled cyanobacterial bloom, using fauna from the species-poor Baltic Sea. Presence of macrofauna mostly decreased meiofaunal incorporation of bloom material, depending on the macrofauna species present. As expected, the species identity of macrofauna influenced the incorporation of organic matter by meiofauna. Interestingly, our results show that, in addition, species richness of the macrofauna significantly reduced meiofauna incorporation of freshly settled nitrogen and carbon. With more than one macrofauna species, the reduction was always greater than expected from the single-species treatments. Field data from the Baltic Sea showed a negative correlation between macrofauna diversity and meiofaunal ostracod abundance, as expected from the experimental results. We argue that this is caused by interference competition, due to spatial niche differentiation between macrofauna species reducing the sediment volume in which ostracods can feed undisturbed by larger competitors. Interference from macrofauna significantly reduces organic matter incorporation by meiofauna, indicating that diversity of larger consumers is an important factor controlling the access of smaller competitors to a limiting food resource.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 166, no 2, 337-347 p.
Keyword [en]
Asymmetrical competition, Biodiversity, Complementarity, Resource partitioning, Species richness
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-68116DOI: 10.1007/s00442-010-1865-0ISI: 000290587600005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-68116DiVA: diva2:472322
Note
authorCount :4Available from: 2012-01-03 Created: 2012-01-03 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically 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
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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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