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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 416 - Feature article
Sand ripples created by wave oscillations; sandy sediments harbour a very diverse flora and fauna.
Photo: V. Evrard

Evrard V, Soetaert K, Heip CHR, Huettel M, Xenopoulos MA, Middelburg JJ


Carbon and nitrogen flows through the benthic food web of a photic subtidal sandy sediment


Sandy, permeable sediments cover large parts of the continental shelf. Waves and currents transport particles, oxygen and nutrients, for which permeable sediments act as filters. Much of the area covered by these sediments is in the photic zone, supporting benthic primary production. Using 13C and 15N as tracers, Evrard and colleagues investigated the trophic relationships in the benthic community of a shallow subtidal sandy sediment. Notwithstanding the potential pelagic input, their study reveals the pivotal role of microphytobenthos as energy carrier for bacteria, meiofauna and macrofauna. Microphytobenthos diversity appears to be crucial for most deposit-feeders, which depend on meiofauna, while macrofauna taxa rely mostly on bulk organic matter.


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