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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Channelling of basal resources and use of allochthonous marine carbon by soil arthropods of the Wadden Sea salt marsh

Maria Rinke*, Kertu Lõhmus, Daniela Pieck, Mark Maraun, Stefan Scheu

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Salt marshes are located between the marine and terrestrial system. Because they form as sediment accumulates, they comprise a gradient of shore height with differing inundation frequencies and associated abiotic soil conditions. Along this gradient, both autochthonous vascular plant resources and allochthonous marine algal or detrital resources are available, with the availability of both varying with season and salt marsh zone. However, little is known about the importance of either resource for the soil animal food web. We investigated both spatial and temporal resource use of the soil macro- and mesofauna of the salt marsh using neutral lipid fatty acids (NLFAs). Generally, irrespective of season and zone, the soil animal food web relied on carbon originating from autochthonous vascular plants and associated bacteria and fungi, with the role of bacteria generally exceeding that of fungi. However, the channelling of fungal resources consistently peaked in October, whereas seasonal changes in the channelling of plant and bacterial resources varied among salt marsh zones. Further, variations in the channelling of resources with season and zone varied among salt marsh animal species. Although being only minor, allochthonous resources of marine origin contributed to soil food web nutrition across salt marsh zones and seasons. The contribution of algae to soil food web nutrition depended on inundation frequency and season, i.e. algal productivity. Overall, the results demonstrate that the salt marsh soil fauna predominantly relies on autochthonous vascular plant resources, with the contribution of allochthonous marine resources being minor and restricted to few taxa.