MEPS 367:93-107 (2008)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07566

Relative importance of vascular plants and algal production in the food web of a Spartina-invaded salt marsh in the Yangtze River estuary

X. Shang1,2,*, G. S. Zhang1, J. Zhang1

1State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, 3663 Zhongshan Road North, Shanghai 200062, PR China
2School of Environment and Public Health, Wenzhou Medical College, Wenzhou 325035, PR China

ABSTRACT: The trophic importance of microphytobenthos (MPB), phytoplankton, C3 vascular plants and invasive Spartina alterniflora in benthic and pelagic food webs was studied in Jiuduansha, a newly formed salt marsh in the Yangtze River estuary, using natural stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic analyses and IsoSource evaluation. MPB was found to be the major food source of meiofauna and important in the diets of macrofaunal consumers. Carbon derived from C3 vascular plants significantly contributed to the nutrition of all planktonic copepods and supported planktivorous nekton, but played a minor role in the benthic food web. Although phytoplankton could be utilized by all the consumers, low production in this highly turbid estuary might restrict its relative importance. High trophic-level consumers could get carbon from 13C-enriched MPB and 13C-depleted C3 plants via zoobenthos and zooplankton, respectively. Neither benthic nor pelagic animals fed exclusively on S. alterniflora except for a gastropod species in the present study, indicating a minor contribution of this invasive C4 plant to the food web of the Jiuduansha salt marsh. In light of the degradation of salt marshes in the Yangtze River estuary, the rapid expansion of this invasive C4 plant may alter the nutrient foundation of resident and migratory consumers and thus significantly impact the ecosystem there.


KEY WORDS: Salt marsh · Food web · Microphytobenthos · Spartina alterniflora · Invasion · Trophic shift


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Cite this article as: Shang X, Zhang GS, Zhang J (2008) Relative importance of vascular plants and algal production in the food web of a Spartina-invaded salt marsh in the Yangtze River estuary. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 367:93-107. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07566

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