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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 371:85-89 (2008)  -  DOI:

Trophic complexity in marine sediments: new evidence from the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Pedro A. Quijón1,*, Paul V. R. Snelgrove2

1Department of Biology, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 4P3, Canada
2Ocean Sciences Centre and Biology Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland A1C 5S7, Canada

ABSTRACT: The potential for predatory infaunal species to increase trophic complexity in marine sedimentary habitats has been debated in the past; however, the status of predatory infauna as a distinct trophic level remains controversial. Specifically, it is unclear whether these assemblages can be accurately depicted by a 3-level trophic model in which predatory infauna constitutes a critical intermediate trophic link between epibenthic predators and other infauna. Here, we specifically address whether the key requirement for recognition of a 3-level trophic structure (namely that ‘epibenthic predators must selectively prey on predatory infauna’) is supported by new experimental evidence from 2 contrasting habitats in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. Our results unambiguously support a 3-trophic level model and raise a series of questions on the current understanding of the trophic structure of marine sedimentary habitats.

KEY WORDS: Trophic complexity · Predatory infauna · Soft sediments

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Cite this article as: Quijon PA, Snelgrove PVR (2008) Trophic complexity in marine sediments: new evidence from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 371:85-89.

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