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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps14593

Trait responses to direct drivers and effects on multiple macrofauna-mediated ecosystem functions

M. P. Jacquot*, M. Snickars, E. Bonsdorff, M. C. Nordström

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: As humans are facing challenges related to climate change, biodiversity loss and increasingly threatened ecosystems, there is a need to understand human-induced pressures, effects, and feedback processes in the marine environment. Our study therefore aimed to identify environmental and anthropogenic drivers for coastal macrozoobenthic communities and the implications for macrofauna-mediated ecosystem functions. A large spatial-temporal dataset combining environmental and macrofaunal data allowed us to highlight exposure and human-induced stressors as main drivers for the macrofaunal communities in the Åland archipelago (northern Baltic Sea). A eutrophication gradient from sheltered inner to exposed outer areas was associated with a change in species- and trait-composition, and a change in dominance from r- to K-strategists in the invertebrate community. Sediment properties were found significant drivers in explaining macrofaunal structural diversity patterns. The decrease in abundance, biomass and species richness in muddy sediments was associated with a reduction in bioturbation and bioirrigation potential indices. Environmental and human-induced pressures reduced the availability of macrofauna as food resource for mesopredators (i.e. benthivorous fish). Our results provide a deeper understanding of environment-community relationships and the interplay between biotic and abiotic ecosystem components regarding human-induced pressures.