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Bottom-up and top-down mechanisms indirectly mediate interactions between benthic biotic ecosystem components
Van Colen, C.; Thrush, S.F.; Parkes, S.; Harris, R.; Woodin, S.A.; Wethey, D.S.; Pilditch, C.A.; Hewitt, J.E.; Lohrer, A.M.; Vincx, M. (2015). Bottom-up and top-down mechanisms indirectly mediate interactions between benthic biotic ecosystem components. J. Sea Res. 98: 42-48.
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101; e-ISSN 1873-1414, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Tellina liliana Iredale, 1915 [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Meiobenthos; Macrobenthos; Interference Competition; Predation; Macomona liliana; Sandflat

Authors  Top 
  • Van Colen, C., more
  • Thrush, S.F.
  • Parkes, S.
  • Harris, R.
  • Woodin, S.A.
  • Wethey, D.S.
  • Pilditch, C.A.
  • Hewitt, J.E.
  • Lohrer, A.M.
  • Vincx, M., more

    The loss or decline in population size of key species can instigate a cascade of effects that have implications for interacting species, therewith impacting biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. We examined how top–down and bottom–up interactions may mediate knock-on effects of a coastal deposit-feeding clam, Macomona liliana (hereafter Macomona), on sandflat meiobenthos densities. Therefore we manipulated densities of Macomona in combination with predator exclusion and experimental shading that was expected to alter microphytobenthos biomass. We show that Macomona regulated densities of meiobenthic (38–500 µm) nematodes, copepods, polychaetes, turbellarians, and ostracodes during the three months of incubation via indirect mechanisms. Predator pressure on Macomona by eagle rays (Myliobatis tenuicaudatus) was found to have a negative effect on densities of some meiobenthic taxa. Furthermore, experimental shading resulted in the loss of a positive relation between Macomona and microphytobenthos biomass, while concurrently increasing the density of some meiobenthic taxa. We suggest that this observation can be explained by the release from bioturbation interference effects of the cockle Austrovenus stutchburyi that was found to thrive in the presence of Macomona under non-shaded conditions. Our results highlight the importance of interactions between macrofaunal bioturbation, microphyte biomass, sediment stability, and predation pressure for the structuring of benthic communities. This experiment illustrates that manipulative field experiments may be particularly suitable to study such multiple indirect mechanisms that regulate ecosystem diversity and related functioning because such approaches may best capture the complex feedbacks and processes that determine ecosystem dynamics.

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