ALVAREZ Maria Fernanda
Effects of two estuarine intertidal polychaetes on infaunal assemblages and organic matter under contrasting crab bioturbation activity
ALVAREZ, M. FERNANDA; BAZTERRICA, M. CIELO; FANJUL, EUGENIA; ADDINO, MARIANA S.; VALIÑAS, MACARENA S.; IRIBARNE, OSCAR O.; BOTTO, FLORENCIA
JOURNAL OF SEA RESEARCH
ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
Año: 2018 vol. 139 p. 33 - 40
Polychaetes and burrowing crabs are widely distributed in intertidal soft bottom environments, playing an important role in structuring infaunal assemblages through trophic and non-trophic interactions such as bioturbation. In southwestern Atlantic (SWA; 37°40′S, 57°23′W) intertidal mudflats, the polychaetes Laeonereis acuta and Neanthes succinea coexist with the burrowing crab Neohelice (Chasmagnathus) granulata. N. granulata and L. acuta strongly modify the sediment characteristics at different spatial scales, changing the infaunal assemblages and probably affecting feeding mode of N. succinea, which could prey upon L. acuta. Here, we experimentally evaluated the effects of constant densities of L. acuta and N. succinea on the benthic species assemblages and sediment organic matter (OM) content in two contrasting scenarios of crab bioturbation: inside and outside crab beds. We found that (1) both polychaetes did not affect the mean density of other macrofaunal organisms neither the meiofauna in general, but L. acuta modifies the abundance of specific groups such as foraminiferans; (2) polychaetes produced changes in meiofaunal spatial distribution probably by adding habitat heterogeneity; and (3) no evidence of predation of N. succinea on L. acuta were observed. Additionally, the variable effects of polychaetes on chlorophyll and OM content showed that they were species-specific and also modified by crab bioturbation. Moreover, effects of crab bioturbation on primary producers, quality and content of OM, and on some macro and meiofaunal organisms were found. Our results suggest that the effects of L. acuta and N. succinea on benthic species and OM content are mostly species-specific and, with regard to food sources (OM content and microphytobenthic biomass), strongly modified by larger scale crab bioturbation.