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Carbon flows in the benthic food web at the deep-sea observatory HAUSGARTEN (Fram Strait)

Van Oevelen, D. and Bergmann, M. and Soetaert, K.E.R. and Bauerfeind, E. and Hasemann, C. and Klages, M. and Schewe, I. and Soltwedel, T. and Budaeva, N.E. (2011) Carbon flows in the benthic food web at the deep-sea observatory HAUSGARTEN (Fram Strait). Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers, 58, 1069-1083. ISSN 0967-0637.

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The HAUSGARTEN observatory is located in the eastern Fram Strait (Arctic Ocean) and used as long-term monitoring site to follow changes in the Arctic benthic ecosystem. Linear inverse modelling was applied to decipher carbon flows among the compartments of the benthic food web at the central HAUSGARTEN station (2500 m) based on an empirical data set consisting of data on biomass, prokaryote production, total carbon deposition and community respiration. The model resolved 99 carbon flows among 4 abiotic and 10 biotic compartments, ranging from prokaryotes up to megafauna. Total carbon input was 3.78±0.31 mmol C m−2 d−1, which is a comparatively small fraction of total primary production in the area. The community respiration of 3.26±0.20 mmol C m−2 d−1 is dominated by prokaryotes (93%) and has lower contributions from surface-deposit feeding macro- (1.7%) and suspension feeding megafauna (1.9%), whereas contributions from nematode and other macro- and megabenthic compartments were limited to <1%. The high prokaryotic contribution to carbon processing suggests that functioning of the benthic food web at the central HAUSGARTEN station is comparable to abyssal plain sediments that are characterised by strong energy limitation. Faunal diet compositions suggest that labile detritus is important for deposit-feeding nematodes (24% of their diet) and surface-deposit feeding macrofauna (∼44%), but that semi-labile detritus is more important in the diets of deposit-feeding macro- and megafauna. Dependency indices on these food sources were also calculated as these integrate direct (i.e. direct grazing and predator–prey interactions) and indirect (i.e. longer loops in the food web) pathways in the food web. Projected sea-ice retreats for the Arctic Ocean typically anticipate a decrease in the labile detritus flux to the already food-limited benthic food web. The dependency indices indicate that faunal compartments depend similarly on labile and semi-labile detritus, which suggests that the benthic biota may be more sensitive to changes in labile detritus inputs than when assessed from diet composition alone. Species-specific responses to different types of labile detritus inputs, e.g. pelagic algae versus sympagic algae, however, are presently unknown and are needed to assess the vulnerability of individual components of the benthic food web.

Item Type:Article
Institutes:Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie (NIOO)
ID Code:9562
Deposited On:15 Sep 2011 02:00
Last Modified:31 Mar 2014 10:58

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