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  • 1.
    Donadi, Serena
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Sweden.
    Austin, Åsa N.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
    Bergström, U.
    Eriksson, B. K.
    Hansen, Joakim P.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre.
    Jacobson, P.
    Sundblad, G.
    van Regteren, M.
    Eklöf, Johan S.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
    A cross-scale trophic cascade from large predatory fish to algae in coastal ecosystems2017In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8452, E-ISSN 1471-2954, Vol. 284, no 1859, article id 20170045Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Trophic cascades occur in many ecosystems, but the factors regulating them are still elusive. We suggest that an overlooked factor is that trophic interactions (TIs) are often scale-dependent and possibly interact across spatial scales. To explore the role of spatial scale for trophic cascades, and particularly the occurrence of cross-scale interactions (CSIs), we collected and analysed food-web data from 139 stations across 32 bays in the Baltic Sea. We found evidence of a four-level trophic cascade linking TIs across two spatial scales: at bay scale, piscivores (perch and pike) controlled mesopredators (three-spined stickleback), which in turn negatively affected epifaunal grazers. At station scale (within bays), grazers on average suppressed epiphytic algae, and indirectly benefitted habitat-forming vegetation. Moreover, the direction and strength of the grazer-algae relationship at station scale depended on the piscivore biomass at bay scale, indicating a cross-scale interaction effect, potentially caused by a shift in grazer assemblage composition. In summary, the trophic cascade from piscivores to algae appears to involve TIs that occur at, but also interact across, different spatial scales. Considering scale-dependence in general, and CSIs in particular, could therefore enhance our understanding of trophic cascades.

  • 2.
    Donadi, Serena
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences. Hanse-Wissenschaftkolleg - Institute for Advanced Study, Germany.
    Eriksson, Britas Klemens
    Lettmann, Karsten Alexander
    Hodapp, Dorothee
    Wolff, Joerg-Olaf
    Hillebrand, Helmut
    The body-size structure of macrobenthos changes predictably along gradients of hydrodynamic stress and organic enrichment2015In: Marine Biology, ISSN 0025-3162, E-ISSN 1432-1793, Vol. 162, no 3, p. 675-685Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Body size is related to an extensive number of species traits and ecological processes and has therefore been suggested as an effective metric to assess community changes and ecosystem's state. However, the applicability of body size as an ecological indicator in benthic environments has been hindered by the poor knowledge of the factors influencing the size spectra of organisms. By applying biological trait analysis (BTA) and generalized linear models to a species dataset collected in the German Wadden Sea (53A degrees 41'14'' N, 7A degrees 14'19'' E) between 1999 and 2012, we show that the size structure of the macrobenthic community changes predictably along environmental gradients. Specifically, body size increases with increasing current-induced shear stress and sediment organic matter content. In addition, the presence of oyster-mussel reefs in one of the sampling stations enhanced the survival of species belonging to the smallest size categories in habitats with high hydrodynamic energy. This was probably due to the local sheltering effects, which together with biodeposition also increased organic matter in the sediment, likely favoring large deposit feeders as well. Our results suggest that body size can be a useful trait for estimating effects of anthropogenic stressors, such as organic enrichment or alteration of hydrodynamic regime and could therefore be effectively included in current monitoring programs of intertidal macrobenthic communities.

  • 3.
    Eklof, Johan
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
    Austin, Åsa
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
    Bergström, Ulf
    Donadi, Serena
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre.
    Eriksson, Britas D. H. K.
    Hansen, Joakim
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre.
    Sundblad, Göran
    Size matters: relationships between body size and body mass of common coastal, aquatic invertebrates in the Baltic Sea2017In: PeerJ, ISSN 2167-8359, E-ISSN 2167-8359, Vol. 5Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background. Organism biomass is one of the most important variables in ecological studies, making biomass estimations one of the most common laboratory tasks. Biomass of small macroinvertebrates is usually estimated as dry mass or ash-free dry mass (hereafter `DM' vs. 'AFDM') per sample; a laborious and time consuming process, that often can be speeded up using easily measured and reliable proxy variables like body size or wet (fresh) mass. Another common way of estimating AFDM (one of the most accurate but also time-consuming estimates of biologically active tissue mass) is the use of AFDM/DM ratios as conversion factors. So far, however, these ratios typically ignore the possibility that the relative mass of biologically active vs. non-active support tissue (e.g., protective exoskeleton or shell)-and therefore, also AFDM/DM ratios-may change with body size, as previously shown for taxa like spiders, vertebrates and trees. Methods. We collected aquatic, epibenthic macroinvertebrates (>1 mm) in 32 shallow bays along a 360 km stretch of the Swedish coast along the Baltic Sea; one of the largest brackish water bodies on Earth. We then estimated statistical relationships between the body size (length or height in mm), body dry mass and ash-free dry mass for 14 of the most common taxa; five gastropods, three bivalves, three crustaceans and three insect larvae. Finally, we statistically estimated the potential influence of body size on the AFDM/DM ratio per taxon. Results. For most taxa, non-linear regression models describing the power relationship between body size and (i)DM and (ii) AFDM fit the data well (as indicated by low SE and high R-2). Moreover, for more than half of the taxa studied (including the vast majority of the shelled molluscs), body size had a negative influence on organism AFDM/DM ratios. Discussion. The good fit of the modelled power relationships suggests that the constants reported here can be used to quickly estimate organism dry-and ash-free dry mass based on body size, thereby freeing up considerable work resources. However, the considerable differences in constants between taxa emphasize the need for tax on specific relationships, and the potential dangers associated with ignoring body size. The negative influence of body size on the AFDM/DM ratio found in a majority of the molluscs could be caused by increasingly thicker shells with organism age, and/or spawning-induced loss of biologically active tissue in adults. Consequently, future studies utilizing AFDM/DM (and presumably also AFDM/wet mass) ratios should carefully assess the potential influence of body size to ensure more reliable estimates of organism body mass.

  • 4. Engel, Friederike G.
    et al.
    Alegria, Javier
    Andriana, Rosyta
    Donadi, Serena
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
    Gusmao, Joao B.
    van Leeuwe, Maria A.
    Matthiessen, Birte
    Eriksson, Britas Klemens
    Mussel beds are biological power stations on intertidal flats2017In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, ISSN 0272-7714, E-ISSN 1096-0015, Vol. 191, p. 21-27Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Intertidal flats are highly productive areas that support large numbers of invertebrates, fish, and birds. Benthic diatoms are essential for the function of tidal flats. They fuel the benthic food web by forming a thin photosynthesizing compartment in the top-layer of the sediment that stretches over the vast sediment flats during low tide. However, the abundance and function of the diatom film is not homogenously distributed. Recently, we have realized the importance of bivalve reefs for structuring intertidal ecosystems; by creating structures on the intertidal flats they provide habitat, reduce hydrodynamic stress and modify the surrounding sediment conditions, which promote the abundance of associated organisms. Accordingly, field studies show that high chlorophyll a concentration in the sediment co-vary with the presence of mussel beds. Here we present conclusive evidence by a manipulative experiment that mussels increase the local biomass of benthic microalgae; and relate this to increasing biomass of microalgae as well as productivity of the biofilm across a nearby mussel bed. Our results show that the ecosystem engineering properties of mussel beds transform them into hot spots for primary production on tidal flats, highlighting the importance of biological control of sedimentary systems.

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