Restructuring of benthic communities in eutrophic estuaries: Lower abundance of prey leads to trophic shifts from omnivory to grazing

Sophia E. Fox, Mirta Teichberg, Ylva S. Olsen, Leanna Heffner, Ivan Valiela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Anthropogenic nutrient loading to coastal waters has increased producer biomass, leading to more frequent hypoxic events particularly in estuarine systems. To examine how eutrophication and hypoxia might alter consumer assemblages, we surveyed benthic communities in 2 subestuaries of Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts, representing a eutrophic-hypoxic regime and an oligotrophic-oxic regime. The number of consumer species and abundance of organisms were lower in the eutrophic estuary. In particular, there were fewer primary consumers, mainly small crustaceans. These differences in consumer community structure also alter trophic interactions. To examine changes in food web structure that might result from lower prey abundance, we sampled organisms from the 2 sub-estuaries and determined their trophic relationships based on nitrogen stable isotope ratios. Reduced numbers of primary consumers, and hence lower prey availability, led to changes in food web linkages. Specifically, omnivores shifted their diets from an omnivorous diet that is mainly carnivorous in the oligotrophic estuary to feeding mainly as herbivores in the eutrophic estuary, where prey were scarce and macroalgae were abundant. These shifts in trophic structure may have consequences for higher trophic levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-57
Number of pages15
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Volume380
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

omnivory
omnivores
benthos
estuaries
grazing
estuary
food webs
food web
diet
trophic structure
prey availability
trophic interaction
organisms
nitrogen isotope
hypoxia
pollution load
trophic level
trophic relationships
eutrophication
coastal water

Cite this

@article{6c65208c8e734c0fb7d03412b90328ce,
title = "Restructuring of benthic communities in eutrophic estuaries: Lower abundance of prey leads to trophic shifts from omnivory to grazing",
abstract = "Anthropogenic nutrient loading to coastal waters has increased producer biomass, leading to more frequent hypoxic events particularly in estuarine systems. To examine how eutrophication and hypoxia might alter consumer assemblages, we surveyed benthic communities in 2 subestuaries of Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts, representing a eutrophic-hypoxic regime and an oligotrophic-oxic regime. The number of consumer species and abundance of organisms were lower in the eutrophic estuary. In particular, there were fewer primary consumers, mainly small crustaceans. These differences in consumer community structure also alter trophic interactions. To examine changes in food web structure that might result from lower prey abundance, we sampled organisms from the 2 sub-estuaries and determined their trophic relationships based on nitrogen stable isotope ratios. Reduced numbers of primary consumers, and hence lower prey availability, led to changes in food web linkages. Specifically, omnivores shifted their diets from an omnivorous diet that is mainly carnivorous in the oligotrophic estuary to feeding mainly as herbivores in the eutrophic estuary, where prey were scarce and macroalgae were abundant. These shifts in trophic structure may have consequences for higher trophic levels.",
keywords = "Benthic community, Crustacean, Eutrophication, Food web, Hypoxia, Macroalgae, Trophic structure",
author = "Fox, {Sophia E.} and Mirta Teichberg and Olsen, {Ylva S.} and Leanna Heffner and Ivan Valiela",
year = "2009",
doi = "10.3354/meps07917",
language = "English",
volume = "380",
pages = "43--57",
journal = "Marine Ecology - Progress Series",
issn = "0171-8630",
publisher = "Inter-Research",

}

Restructuring of benthic communities in eutrophic estuaries : Lower abundance of prey leads to trophic shifts from omnivory to grazing. / Fox, Sophia E.; Teichberg, Mirta; Olsen, Ylva S.; Heffner, Leanna; Valiela, Ivan.

In: Marine Ecology Progress Series, Vol. 380, 2009, p. 43-57.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Restructuring of benthic communities in eutrophic estuaries

T2 - Lower abundance of prey leads to trophic shifts from omnivory to grazing

AU - Fox, Sophia E.

AU - Teichberg, Mirta

AU - Olsen, Ylva S.

AU - Heffner, Leanna

AU - Valiela, Ivan

PY - 2009

Y1 - 2009

N2 - Anthropogenic nutrient loading to coastal waters has increased producer biomass, leading to more frequent hypoxic events particularly in estuarine systems. To examine how eutrophication and hypoxia might alter consumer assemblages, we surveyed benthic communities in 2 subestuaries of Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts, representing a eutrophic-hypoxic regime and an oligotrophic-oxic regime. The number of consumer species and abundance of organisms were lower in the eutrophic estuary. In particular, there were fewer primary consumers, mainly small crustaceans. These differences in consumer community structure also alter trophic interactions. To examine changes in food web structure that might result from lower prey abundance, we sampled organisms from the 2 sub-estuaries and determined their trophic relationships based on nitrogen stable isotope ratios. Reduced numbers of primary consumers, and hence lower prey availability, led to changes in food web linkages. Specifically, omnivores shifted their diets from an omnivorous diet that is mainly carnivorous in the oligotrophic estuary to feeding mainly as herbivores in the eutrophic estuary, where prey were scarce and macroalgae were abundant. These shifts in trophic structure may have consequences for higher trophic levels.

AB - Anthropogenic nutrient loading to coastal waters has increased producer biomass, leading to more frequent hypoxic events particularly in estuarine systems. To examine how eutrophication and hypoxia might alter consumer assemblages, we surveyed benthic communities in 2 subestuaries of Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts, representing a eutrophic-hypoxic regime and an oligotrophic-oxic regime. The number of consumer species and abundance of organisms were lower in the eutrophic estuary. In particular, there were fewer primary consumers, mainly small crustaceans. These differences in consumer community structure also alter trophic interactions. To examine changes in food web structure that might result from lower prey abundance, we sampled organisms from the 2 sub-estuaries and determined their trophic relationships based on nitrogen stable isotope ratios. Reduced numbers of primary consumers, and hence lower prey availability, led to changes in food web linkages. Specifically, omnivores shifted their diets from an omnivorous diet that is mainly carnivorous in the oligotrophic estuary to feeding mainly as herbivores in the eutrophic estuary, where prey were scarce and macroalgae were abundant. These shifts in trophic structure may have consequences for higher trophic levels.

KW - Benthic community

KW - Crustacean

KW - Eutrophication

KW - Food web

KW - Hypoxia

KW - Macroalgae

KW - Trophic structure

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=67649188924&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.3354/meps07917

DO - 10.3354/meps07917

M3 - Article

VL - 380

SP - 43

EP - 57

JO - Marine Ecology - Progress Series

JF - Marine Ecology - Progress Series

SN - 0171-8630

ER -