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Microphytobenthos: the ecological role of the "secret garden" of unvegetated, shallow-water marine habitats: II. Role in sediment stability and shallow-water food webs
Miller, D.C.; Geider, R.J.; MacIntyre, H.L. (1996). Microphytobenthos: the ecological role of the "secret garden" of unvegetated, shallow-water marine habitats: II. Role in sediment stability and shallow-water food webs. Estuaries 19(2A): 202-212

www.jstor.org/stable/1352225
In: Estuaries. The Estuarine Research Federation, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory: Columbia, S.C., etc.,. ISSN 0160-8347, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Miller, D.C., more
  • Geider, R.J.
  • MacIntyre, H.L.

Abstract
    The microphytobenthos form an important component of all shallow-water ecosystems where enough light reaches the sediment surface to support appreciable primary production. Although less conspicuous than macroalgae or vascular plants, the microphytobenthos can contribute significantly to primary production and can modify habitat characteristics. The microphytobenthos alter sediment properties (e. g., erodibility) both directly, in the extreme forming a mat or scum on the sediment surface, and indirectly by modifying the activities of benthic infauna (e. g., pelletization, burrowing, tube building, and sediment tracking). Carbon dioxide fixed by the microphytobenthos supports higher, grazing trophic levels. These include deposit-feeding and suspension-feeding macrofauna as well as meiofauna and microfauna. Quantitative relations between the feeding and growth rates of macrofauna and the abundance of microphytobenthos and suspended organic matter (i. e., functional responses) are reviewed. Given the current state of knowledge of the direct and indirect interactions involving trophic dynamics, sediment properties, and benthic microalgae, we argue for reductionist studies of particular interactions as distinct entities. This is a prerequisite for the emergence of a comprehensive picture of unvegetated ecosystems and the ability to predict their responses to man's activities.

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