MEPS 202:289-295 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps202289

Ecological significance of benthic foraminifera: 13C labelling experiments

L. Moodley1,*, H. T. S. Boschker1, J. J. Middelburg1, R. Pel2, P. M. J. Herman1, E. de Deckere1, C. H. R. Heip1

1Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Centre for Estuarine and Coastal Ecology (NIOO-CEMO), PO Box 140, 4400 AC, Yerseke, The Netherlands
2Centre for Limnology (NIOO-CL), Rijksstraatweg 6, 3631 AC, Nieuwersluis, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: We examined the ability of foraminifera in taking up freshly deposited algal carbon in intertidal estuarine sediments. Lyophylized 13C-labelled axenic Chlorella was added to intact sediment cores containing natural benthic biota. The response of the system as a whole was rapid; ~5% of the added carbon was respired to CO2 within 6 h. Bacteria assimilated ~2 to 4% of the added carbon within 12 h. Among the foraminifera, the dominant foraminifer Ammonia exhibited rapid uptake and it is estimated that ~1 to 7% of the added carbon was ingested within 3 to 53 h. This rapid, substantial uptake by Ammonia and the significant contribution of foraminifera to meiobenthic abundance and biomass (37 and 47% respectively) suggest that foraminifera play an important role in the carbon cycle in these sediments.


KEY WORDS: Meiobenthos · Benthic foraminifera · Bacterial biomarkers · Algal carbon · Carbon cycle · CO2 · 13C labelling


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