Climate change is expected to affect resource-consumer interactions underlying stability in polar food webs. Polar benthic organisms have adapted to the marked seasonality characterising their habitats by concentrating foraging and reproductive activity in summer months, when inputs from sympagic and pelagic producers increase. While this enables the persistence of biodiverse food webs, the mechanisms underlying changes in resource use and nutrient transfer are poorly understood. Thus, our understanding of how temporal and spatial variations in the supply of resources may affect food web structure and functioning is limited. By means of C and N isotopic analyses of two key Antarctic benthic consumers (Adamussium colbecki, Bivalvia, and Sterechinus neumayeri, Echinoidea) and Bayesian mixing models, we describe changes in trophic niche and nutrient transfer across trophic levels associated with the long- and short-term diet and body size of specimens sampled in midsummer in both shallow and deep waters. Samplings occurred soon after the sea-ice broke up at Tethys Bay, an area characterised by extreme seasonality in sea-ice coverage and productivity in the Ross Sea. In the long term, the trophic niche was broader and variation between specimens was greater, with intermediate-size specimens generally consuming a higher number of resources than small and large specimens. The coupling of energy channels in the food web was consequently more direct than in the short term. Sediment and benthic algae were more frequently consumed in the long term, before the sea-ice broke up, while consumers specialised on sympagic algae and plankton in the short term. Regardless of the time scale, sympagic algae were more frequently consumed in shallow waters, while plankton was more frequently consumed in deep waters. Our results suggest a strong temporal relationship between resource availability and the trophic niche of benthic consumers in Antarctica. Potential climate-driven changes in the timing and quality of nutrient inputs may have profound implications for the structure of polar food webs and the persistence of their constituent species, which have adapted their trophic niches to a highly predictable schedule of resource inputs.

Time- and depth-wise trophic niche shifts in Antarctic benthos / Calizza, Edoardo; Careddu, Giulio; Sporta Caputi, Simona; Rossi, Loreto; Costantini, Maria Letizia. - In: PLOS ONE. - ISSN 1932-6203. - ELETTRONICO. - 13:3(2018), pp. 1-17. [10.1371/journal.pone.0194796]

Time- and depth-wise trophic niche shifts in Antarctic benthos

Calizza, Edoardo;Careddu, Giulio;Sporta Caputi, Simona;Rossi, Loreto;Costantini, Maria Letizia
2018

Abstract

Climate change is expected to affect resource-consumer interactions underlying stability in polar food webs. Polar benthic organisms have adapted to the marked seasonality characterising their habitats by concentrating foraging and reproductive activity in summer months, when inputs from sympagic and pelagic producers increase. While this enables the persistence of biodiverse food webs, the mechanisms underlying changes in resource use and nutrient transfer are poorly understood. Thus, our understanding of how temporal and spatial variations in the supply of resources may affect food web structure and functioning is limited. By means of C and N isotopic analyses of two key Antarctic benthic consumers (Adamussium colbecki, Bivalvia, and Sterechinus neumayeri, Echinoidea) and Bayesian mixing models, we describe changes in trophic niche and nutrient transfer across trophic levels associated with the long- and short-term diet and body size of specimens sampled in midsummer in both shallow and deep waters. Samplings occurred soon after the sea-ice broke up at Tethys Bay, an area characterised by extreme seasonality in sea-ice coverage and productivity in the Ross Sea. In the long term, the trophic niche was broader and variation between specimens was greater, with intermediate-size specimens generally consuming a higher number of resources than small and large specimens. The coupling of energy channels in the food web was consequently more direct than in the short term. Sediment and benthic algae were more frequently consumed in the long term, before the sea-ice broke up, while consumers specialised on sympagic algae and plankton in the short term. Regardless of the time scale, sympagic algae were more frequently consumed in shallow waters, while plankton was more frequently consumed in deep waters. Our results suggest a strong temporal relationship between resource availability and the trophic niche of benthic consumers in Antarctica. Potential climate-driven changes in the timing and quality of nutrient inputs may have profound implications for the structure of polar food webs and the persistence of their constituent species, which have adapted their trophic niches to a highly predictable schedule of resource inputs.
2018
antarctica; stable isotopes; climat change; sea ice
01 Pubblicazione su rivista::01a Articolo in rivista
Time- and depth-wise trophic niche shifts in Antarctic benthos / Calizza, Edoardo; Careddu, Giulio; Sporta Caputi, Simona; Rossi, Loreto; Costantini, Maria Letizia. - In: PLOS ONE. - ISSN 1932-6203. - ELETTRONICO. - 13:3(2018), pp. 1-17. [10.1371/journal.pone.0194796]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1097201
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