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The project investigated small-scale biotic interactions between laminated microbial communities and meiofauna at light-exposed sediment-water boundaries of estuarine lagoons. The production and biological structure of these systems is mainly determined by complex processes at the sediment-water interface which depend on finely scaled patterns, requiring appreciation of how the biota interact within these scales. We tested whether changing light conditions and active emergence of the harpacticoid species Mesochra lilljeborgi and Tachidius discipes are mediated by the activity of benthic oxygenic and anoxygenic phototrophic microbes. Two hypotheses were tested which addresses to the question of causality between changing light conditions and active emergence of the harpacticoid copepods. (1)The harpacticoid copepods T. discipes and M. lilljeborgi will enter the bottom water during daylight when oxygenic photosynthesis of cyanobacteria and eukaryotic algae is blocked and conditions at the sediment-water interface have turned anoxic. (2)Both species will not emerge during dark exposures when transferred to sterilized sediments.
The main objective was to investigate the importance of the sediment as a nutrient source for blooms of nuiscance filamentous algae. Nutrient fluxes from the sediment were hypothesised to be of greater importance in maintaining algal biomass than were nutrients originating from the overlying water column. We aimed to assess the relative importance of algal mats on sediment geochemistry and nutrient release under stillwater and controlled flow conditions. Using nutrient fluxes as a surrogate for ecosystem function, we wished to investigate the role of species richness in maintaining the integrity of nutrient diagenesis. In this context, it is not necessarily the number of species that is important in maintaining nutrient supply to algal blooms, but the contribution individual species make to mediate nutrient release.
The activity pattern is recorded by new techniques of real-time video tracking of the benthic activity. Electronic intelligent sensors allow the time analysis of benthic numeric objects with intensive automated recording sessions. We record the natural behaviour of several animals over 24h cycles. We also look into possible antagonistic behaviour, i.e. how animals feed when they have tubes close to each other and when feeding may occur in the same patches. Comparison is made between active motile surface deposit feeders and tubicolous surface deposit feeders. Activities of Amphiura filiformis, A.chiajei (motile burried Ophiuroids) and Melinna cristata (tubicolous Polychaete) are extracted by image analysis and quantified. Amphiura activity is restricted to its deposit feeding mode and no suspension feeding is present in the experiments. We also examine how addition of phytoplankton to the sediment will affect the feeding activity and if Amphiura and Melinna can locate patches of food. Dynamics of the response to food addition is studied.
To asses the utility of a new range of microelectrode sensors in measuring the flux rates of oxygen and nutrients across the sedimentary diffusive boundary layer and into and through macrofaunal tubes and burrow structures.
Dose-response experiments using 5 different sediment concentrations of fluoranthene (Flu) and pyrene (Py) respectively. Measuring radioactive marked Flu and Py in brittlestars and polychaetes and microbial degradation of Flu and Py in sediment. Also growth rate of brittlestars and polychaetes and determination of regenerationtime of brittlestar-arms.