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Dominant amphipods of Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows display considerable trophic diversity
Michel, L.N.; Dauby, P.; Gobert, S.; Graeve, M; Nyssen, F.; Thelen, N.; Lepoint, G. (2015). Dominant amphipods of Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows display considerable trophic diversity. Mar. Ecol. (Berl.) 36(4): 969-981. dx.doi.org/10.1111/maec.12194
In: Marine Ecology (Berlin). Blackwell: Berlin. ISSN 0173-9565, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    Epiphytes; fatty acids; mesograzers; seagrass; SIAR; stable isotopes

Authors  Top 
  • Michel, L.N., more
  • Dauby, P., more
  • Gobert, S., more
  • Graeve, M.
  • Nyssen, F., more
  • Thelen, N.
  • Lepoint, G., more

Abstract
    Gut content examination and trophic markers (fatty acids, stable isotopes of C and N) were combined to delineate the diet of the dominant species of amphipods from Mediterranean Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows and to highlight trophic diversity among this community. Our results indicate that, although all dominant species heavily relied on macroalgal epiphytes, considerable interspecific dietary differences existed. Carbon stable isotope ratios notably showed that some of the amphipod species favored grazing on epiphytes from leaves or litter fragments (Apherusa chiereghinii, Aora spinicornis, Gammarus aequicauda), while others such as Dexamine spiniventris preferred epiphytes from rhizomes. The remaining amphipods (Caprella acanthifera, Ampithoe helleri and Gammarella fucicola) readily consumed both groups. In addition, SIAR modeling suggested that most species had a mixed diet, and relied on several food items. Fatty acid analysis and gut contents revealed that contributions of microepiphytic diatoms and of benthic and suspended particulate organic matter to the diet of amphipods were anecdotal. None of the examined species seemed to graze on their seagrass host [low 18:2(n-6) and 18:3(n-3) fatty acids contents], but Gammarus aequicauda partly relied on seagrass leaf detritus, as demonstrated by the lesser 13C-depletion of their tissues. Overall, our findings suggest that amphipods, because of their importance in the transfer of organic matter from primary producers and detritus to higher rank consumers, are key items in P. oceanica-associated food webs.

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