MEPS - Vol. 550 - FEATURE ARTICLE

An epibenthic trawl haul from the Beaufort Sea shelf. Terrestrial organic matter may provide a greater basal energy source to Arctic marine consumers than previously thought. Photo: Katrin Iken

Bell LE, Bluhm BA, Iken K

 

Influence of terrestrial organic matter in marine food webs of the Beaufort Sea shelf and slope

The role and impact of land-derived organic material as an energy source in marine food webs has historically been poorly understood. Bell and colleagues investigated variation in community trophic structure on the shelf and slope of the Arctic Beaufort Sea concurrent with gradients of terrestrial versus marine organic matter influence. Results suggest that terrestrial matter can function as a basal energy source to the marine food web, though the energetic transfer from terrestrial material to marine consumers may require processing through a coupled microbial loop. These findings indicate the need for further study of this specific energetic pathway within marine systems, especially in the light of forecasted increases of river runoff and coastal erosion in the Arctic Ocean.

 

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