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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 608:45-60 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12778

Influence of phytodetrital quality on macroinfaunal community structure and epifaunal response

Neus Campanyà-Llovet1,2,*, Paul V. R. Snelgrove1,2

1Biology Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL A1B 3X9, Canada
2Department of Ocean Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL A1C 5S7, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: In order to evaluate the influence of food quality on deep-sea macroinfaunal and mega-epifaunal communities, we deployed experimental food pulses at 890 m depth in Barkley Canyon, NE Pacific. Pulses of 2 microalgal species (i.e. Chaetoceros calcitrans and Nannochloropsis oculata) differed in nitrogen, carotenoid, and lipid content (i.e. quality). After 8 mo, we sampled the enriched patches and controls with push cores. The community structure between the 2 treatments differed in the deeper sediment layers (5-10 cm). Despite no significant differences in the surface sediments (0-5 cm) among the 2 enrichment patches and the control, the macroinfaunal community from sediments enriched with N. oculata separated in ordination space. These results suggest that the experimental duration exceeded the appropriate time-frame to detect initial colonizers at the surface sediments. Analyses of functional traits, including migration, colonization, foraging, and food selectivity, separated communities in ordination space among algal treatments and control, although not significantly. Based on fixed camera images of each treatment over the course of the experiment, we observed more epifaunal Brachyura visits (between 50 and 40 more) to a patch enriched with N. oculata than to a patch enriched with C. calcitrans or the procedural control patch during the first 2 wk of the experiment. The visible area of 1 enrichment patch per algal treatment disappeared (>90%) ~1.5 mo after deployment. Our study points to influences of food quality, at the algal class level, on macroinfaunal community structure and function, epifaunal disturbance, and sediment reworking.


KEY WORDS: Food quality · Food pulse · Deep sea · Infauna · Megafauna · Sediments


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Cite this article as: Campanyà-Llovet N, Snelgrove PVR (2019) Influence of phytodetrital quality on macroinfaunal community structure and epifaunal response. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 608:45-60. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12778

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