MEPS 313:135-143 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps313135

Uptake of sedimentary organic matter by the deposit-feeding Baltic amphipods Monoporeia affinis and Pontoporeia femorata

Lars Byrén, Gunilla Ejdung*, Ragnar Elmgren

Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Some benthic deposit-feeders mainly eat freshly deposited phytodetritus, while others feed more on older material that has been mixed with the sediment and modified by diagenetic processes before being ingested. We studied the uptake of sedimentary foods of different ages by the Baltic amphipods Monoporeia affinis (Lindström) and Pontoporeia femorata Kröyer in laboratory experiments using 3 isotopic tracers. The amphipods were offered fresh 14C-labelled diatoms spread on top of a thin unlabelled sediment layer, underlain by 1 yr old sediment to which 13C- and 15N-labelled diatoms had been added. Thus, 14C uptake represented surface feeding on fresh organic material, and 13C:15N uptake subsurface feeding on aged phytodetritus. Experiments using a single species only or mixed species were conducted in spring with 1 yr old adults and in summer with 3 mo old juveniles. Adult M. affinis (initial dry mass 1.6 mg) took up ~5 times more 14C than P. femorata (initial dry mass 1.7 mg), indicating that M. affinis depended more on fresh phytodetritus, while P. femorata had significantly higher 13C:15N uptake, showing a greater reliance of this species on aged organic matter from the deep sediment. In experiments, adult P. femorata consistently fed at depth in the sediment, whereas adult M. affinis modified feeding depth depending on food quality. Juveniles (0.1 mg initial dry mass) of both species had similar tracer uptake and fed both on surface and subsurface sediment, suggesting greater potential for interspecific food competition in juveniles than in adults. Juveniles of both species had higher mass-specific 14C uptake than adults. Single species treatments had higher 14C uptake than mixed treatments in both adults and juveniles, indicating food competition at the higher density of the mixed treatments.


KEY WORDS: 14C · 13C · 15N · Deposit-feeding · Amphipods · Food quality · Baltic Sea · Monoporeia affinis · Pontoporeia femorata


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