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Trophic cul-de-sac, Pyrazus ebeninus, limits trophic transfer through an estuarine detritus-based food web

Bishop, Melanie J., Kelaher, Brendan P., Alquezar, Ralph, York, Paul H., Ralph, Peter J. and Skilbeck, C. Greg 2007, Trophic cul-de-sac, Pyrazus ebeninus, limits trophic transfer through an estuarine detritus-based food web, Oikos, vol. 116, no. 3, pp. 427-438, doi: 10.1111/j.2006.0030-1299.15557.x.

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Title Trophic cul-de-sac, Pyrazus ebeninus, limits trophic transfer through an estuarine detritus-based food web
Author(s) Bishop, Melanie J.
Kelaher, Brendan P.
Alquezar, Ralph
York, Paul H.
Ralph, Peter J.
Skilbeck, C. Greg
Journal name Oikos
Volume number 116
Issue number 3
Start page 427
End page 438
Total pages 12
Publisher Wiley - Blackwell Publishing
Place of publication Malden, Mass.
Publication date 2007-03
ISSN 0030-1299
1600-0706
Keyword(s) abundance
detritus
energy flow
estuarine environment
food web
macrobenthos
pelagic ecosystem
predator
predator-prey interaction
snail
species richness
trophic interaction
Summary The importance to food-webs of trophic cul-de-sacs, species that channel energy flow away from higher trophic levels, is seldom considered outside of the pelagic systems in which they were first identified. On intertidal mudflats, inputs of detritus from saltmarshes, macroalgae or microphytobenthos are generally regarded as a major structuring force underpinning food-webs and there has been no consideration of trophic cul-de-sacs to date. A fully orthogonal three-factor experiment manipulating the density of the abundant gastropod, Pyrazus ebeninus, detritus and macrobenthic predators on a Sydney mudflat revealed large deleterious effects of the gastropod, irrespective of detrital loading or the presence of predators. Two months after experimental manipulation, the standing-stock of microphytobenthos in plots with high (44 per m2) densities of P. ebeninus was 20% less than in plots with low (4 per m2) densities. Increasing densities of P. ebeninus from low to high halved the abundance of macroinvertebrates and the average number of species. In contrast, the addition of detritus had differing effects on microphytobenthos (positively affected) and macroinvertebrates (negatively affected). Over the two-months of our experiment, no predatory mortality of P. ebeninus was observed and high densities of P. ebeninus decreased impacts of predators on macroinvertebrate abundances. Given that the dynamics of southeast Australian mudflats are driven more by disturbance than seasonality in predators and their interactions with prey, it is likely that Pyrazus would be similarly resistant to predation and have negative effects on benthic assemblages at other times of the year, outside of our study period. Thus, in reducing microphytobenthos and the abundance and species richness of macrofauna, high abundances of the detritivore P. ebeninus may severely limit the flow of energy up the food chain to commercially-important species. This study therefore suggests that trophic cul-de-sacs are not limited to the eutrophied pelagic systems in which they were first identified, but may exist in other systems as well.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/j.2006.0030-1299.15557.x
Field of Research 050102 Ecosystem Function
060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology)
060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology)
Socio Economic Objective 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2007, Oikos
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30047895

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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