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Interactions between Seagrass Complexity, Hydrodynamic Flow and Biomixing Alter Food Availability for Associated Filter-Feeding Organisms
González-Ortis, V.; Egea, L.G.; Jiménez-Ramos, R.; Moreno-Marín, F.; Pérez-Llorens, J.L.; Bouma , T.J.; Brun, F.G. (2014). Interactions between Seagrass Complexity, Hydrodynamic Flow and Biomixing Alter Food Availability for Associated Filter-Feeding Organisms. PLoS One 9(8): e1949 pp 1-14. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1371/journal.pone.0104949
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • González-Ortis, V.
  • Egea, L.G.
  • Jiménez-Ramos, R.
  • Moreno-Marín, F.
  • Pérez-Llorens, J.L.
  • Bouma , T.J., more
  • Brun, F.G.

Abstract
    Seagrass shoots interact with hydrodynamic forces and thereby a positively or negatively influence the survival of associated species. The modification of these forces indirectly alters the physical transport and flux of edible particles within seagrass meadows, which will influence the growth and survivorship of associated filter-feeding organisms. The present work contributes to gaining insight into the mechanisms controlling the availability of resources for filter feeders inhabiting seagrass canopies, both from physical (influenced by seagrass density and patchiness) and biological (regulated by filter feeder density) perspectives. A factorial experiment was conducted in a large racetrack flume, which combined changes in hydrodynamic conditions, chlorophyll a concentration in the water and food intake rate (FIR) in a model active filter-feeding organism (the cockle). Results showed that seagrass density and patchiness modified both hydrodynamic forces and availability of resources for filter feeders. Chlorophyll a water content decreased to 50% of the initial value when densities of both seagrass shoots and cockles were high. Also, filter feeder density controlled resource availability within seagrass patches, depending on its spatial position within the racetrack flume. Under high density of filter-feeding organisms, chlorophyll a levels were lower between patches. This suggests that the pumping activity of cockles (i.e. biomixing) is an emergent key factor affecting both resource availability and FIR for filter feeders in dense canopies. Applying our results to natural conditions, we suggest the existence of a direct correlation between habitat complexity (i.e. shoot density and degree of patchiness) and filter feeders density. Fragmented and low-density patches seem to offer both greater protection from hydrodynamic forces and higher resource availability. In denser patches, however, resources are allocated mostly within the canopy, which would benefit filter feeders if they occurred at low densities, but would be limiting when filter feeder were at high densities.

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