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The importance of grazing food chain for energy flow and production in three intertidal sand bottom communities of the northern Wadden Sea
Asmus, H.; Asmus, R. (1985). The importance of grazing food chain for energy flow and production in three intertidal sand bottom communities of the northern Wadden Sea. Helgol. Meeresunters. 39: 273-301. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/BF01992775
In: Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen. Biologische Anstalt Helgoland: Hamburg. ISSN 0174-3597, more
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Abstract
    In three intertidal sand bottom communities of the “Königshafen” (Island of Sylt, North Sea), the biomass production and respiration of phytobenthos, phytoplankton, macrozoobenthos, and in situ community metabolism were measured monthly during 1980. The study sites were characterized by different communities (Nereis-Corophium-belt, seagrass-bed, Arenicola-flat) and by a high abundance of the mollusk Hydrobia ulvae. Benthic diatoms are the major constituents of plant biomass in the Arenicola-flat. In this community, gross primary productivity amounts to 148 g C m-2 a-1. 82 % of this productivity is caused by microbenthos, whereas phytoplankton constitutes only 18 %. In the seagrass-bed, gross primary productivity amounts to 473 g C m-2 a-1. 79 % of this is generated by seagrass and its epiphytes, whereas microphytobenthos contributes 19 %. In the Nereis-Corophium-belt, only microphytobenthos is important for biomass and primary productivity (gross: 152 g C m-2 a-1). Annual production of macrofauna proved to be similar in the Arenicola-flat (30 g C m-2 a-1) to that in the seagrass-bed (29 g C m-2 a-1). Only one third of this amount is produced in the Nereis-Corophium-belt (10 g C m-2 a-1). The main part of secondary production and animal respiration is contributed by grazing H. ulvae. In the seagrass-bed, 83 % of the energy used for production is obtained from the grazing food chain. In the Arenicola-flat and the Nereis-Corophium-belt, the importance of non-grazing species is greater. A synchrony of seasonal development of plant biomass and monthly secondary production was observed. In the Arenicola-flat and the seagrass-bed, where density and production of macrofauna are high, a conspicuous decrease in biomass of microbenthos occurs during the warmer season, whereas in the Nereis-Corophium-belt primary production causes an increase in microphytobenthic biomass in summer and autumn. Energy flow through the macrofauna amounts to 69 g C m-2 a-1 in the Arenicola-flat, 85 g C m-2 a-1 in the seagrass-bed and 35 g C m-2 a-1 in the Nereis-Corophium-belt. Based on the assumption that sources of food are used in proportion to their availability, 49 g C m-2 a-1 (Arenicola-flat), 72 g C m-2 a-1 (seagrass-bed) and 26 g C m-2 a-1 (Nereis-Corophium-belt) are estimated as taken up by the grazing food chain. All three subsystems are able to support the energy requirements from their own primary production and are not dependent on energy import from adjacent ecosystems.

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