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Small critters play a big role? Benthic biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in coastal sedimentary environments
EP21085
Poster Title: Small critters play a big role? Benthic biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in coastal sedimentary environments
Submitted on 20 Feb 2014
Author(s): Belley, Rénald and Snelgrove, Paul
Affiliations: Memorial University
Poster Views: 1,393
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Poster Information
Abstract: Benthic macrofauna living in marine sedimentary ecosystems habitats play a key role in numerous ecosystem processes, such as carbon and nutrient cycles. To study the effect of benthic biodiversity on ecosystem functioning, we collected push cores from Saanich Inlet and the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, in May and July 2011 using the ROV ROPOS. Data from the VENUS observatory at these locations clearly shows low bottom water oxygen content in Saanich Inlet in contrast to the well-oxygenated Strait of Georgia nearby. Sediment cores were incubated for a 12-24 hours period to measure oxygen uptake and nutrient fluxes, followed by determination of macrofaunal composition. PERMANOVA results indicate significantly lower polychaete community abundance and diversity in Saanich Inlet than in the Strait of Georgia. However, this lower diversity do not results in lower ecosystem process measurements. Redundancy analysis indicates that benthic respiration and nutrient fluxes are best explained by bottom water temperature and oxygen concentration. This study suggests that environmental variables have a larger effect on ecosystem functioning than biological variables in these coastal sedimentary ecosystems.Summary: Study of the importance of biological and environmental factors to explain variability in ecosystem processes within benthic habitats suggests that environmental variables have a larger effect on ecosystem functioning than biological variables in these coastal sedimentary ecosystems.References: Biles CL, Solan M, Isaksson I, Paterson DM, Emes C, Raffaelli DG (2003) Flow modifies the effect of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning: An in situ study of estuarine sediments. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 285-286:165-177.

Bulling MT, Hicks N, Murray L, Paterson DM, Raffaelli D, White PCL, Solan M (2010) Marine biodiversity-ecosystem functions under uncertain environmental futures. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 365:2107-2
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