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Stable isotopes as trophic tracers: combining field sampling and manipulative labelling of food resources for macrobenthos
Herman, P.M.J.; Middelburg, J.J.; Widdows, J.; Lucas, C.H.; Heip, C.H.R. (2000). Stable isotopes as trophic tracers: combining field sampling and manipulative labelling of food resources for macrobenthos. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 204: 79-92.
In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. Inter-Research: Oldendorf/Luhe. ISSN 0171-8630; e-ISSN 1616-1599, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Aquatic communities > Benthos
    Aquatic communities > Benthos > Phytobenthos
    Behaviour > Feeding behaviour
    Interspecific relationships > Predation
    Isotopes > Carbon isotopes
    Mya arenaria Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; Polychaeta [WoRMS]
    ANE, Netherlands, Westerschelde, Molenplaat [Marine Regions]
Author keywords
    food web; microphytobenthos; deposit feeding; suspension feeding;westerscheldeflume

Authors  Top 
  • Herman, P.M.J., more
  • Middelburg, J.J., more
  • Widdows, J., more

    We combined 3 different approaches to determine the relative importance of microphytobenthos production as food for intertidal macrobenthic animals: (1) the natural abundance of stable-isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen, (2) an in situ deliberate tracer addition of super(13)C-bicarbonate, which was transferred through the benthic food chain after its incorporation by benthic algae, and (3) a dual labelling experiment in a flume, where pelagic and benthic algae were labelled with super(15)N and super(13)C, respectively. The results of the 3 approaches confirmed the high importance of microphytobenthos as a food source for (surface) deposit feeders. Despite the clearly demonstrated resuspension of benthic algae at high current velocities, suspension feeders appeared to depend almost exclusively on pelagic algae (and possibly detrital carbon) as a food source. Based on the results of the experiments, we determined an approximate degree of dependence on microphytobenthos for different species of intertidal macrobenthos. The macrobenthic biomass at 5 study locations, when weighted by these coefficients, correlated very well with measured productivity of the microphytobenthos.

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