Combining gut fluorescence technique and spatial analysis to determine Littorina littorea grazing dynamics in nutrient-enriched and nutrient-unenriched littoral mesocosms

ER Diaz, Patrik Kraufvelin, J Erlandsson

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    21 Citations (Scopus)


    Spatiotemporal distribution patterns in relation to feeding behavior of herbivorous gastropods have been studied extensively, but still knowledge about small-scale patterns is limited in relation to eutrophication. This experimental study aimed to describe the small-scale distribution of Littorina littorea in nutrient-enriched and nutrient-unenriched mesocosms in a merely atidal region and relate the distribution to food abundance and possible competing organisms, while checking simultaneously for feeding activities. The latter part was accomplished through the "gut fluorescence technique" GFT (which, to our knowledge, has not previously been used for benthic grazers) to estimate per capita grazing rates and the former part through monitoring of spatial heterogeneity of L. littorea and co-variation with sessile organisms (using semivariograms and cross-semivariograms, respectively). After 5 months of nutrient addition, the abundance and biomass of L. littorea had increased in enriched systems, which also had significantly higher total biomass of green algae. Gut pigment content was higher in L. littorea from enriched mesocosms, and gut depletion rate was higher in L. littorea from unenriched mesocosms. Spatial analysis showed that L. littorea exhibited generally random patterns (suggesting feeding activities) but sometimes (often in the morning) spatial patchiness (clumped distribution) in both enriched and unenriched conditions. There was mainly positive co-variation between L. littorea and biofilm, while different nutrient conditions exhibited contrasting co-variation between L. littorea and barnacles (positive co-variation in enriched and negative co-variation in unenriched mesocosms). The study offered insights into how feeding behavior and spatial distribution of a species may interact with community components differently under different nutrient regimes. The applied methodology can be useful for purposes of faster examination of grazing effects among different regions and also to compare grazing intensities and interactions between grazers and the benthic communities in disturbed (including pollution and nutrient enrichment) and non-disturbed systems, as well as in up-welling versus non-upwelling areas.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)837–852
    Number of pages16
    JournalMarine Biology
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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