Feeding preferences of abyssal macrofauna inferred from in situ pulse chase experiments

Rachel M Jeffreys, Ciara Burke, Alan J Jamieson, Bhavani E Narayanaswamy, Henry A Ruhl, Kenneth L Smith, Ursula Witte

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25 Citations (Scopus)
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Climatic fluctuations may significantly alter the taxonomic and biochemical composition of phytoplankton blooms and subsequently phytodetritus, the food source for the majority of deep-sea communities. To examine the response of abyssal benthic communities to different food resources we simulated a food sedimentation event containing diatoms and coccolithophorids at Station M in the NE Pacific. In one set of experiments we measured incorporation of C-diatom and N-cocco into the macrofauna using isotopically enriched C-13-diatoms and N-15-coccolithophores. In a second experiment we measured incorporation of C and N from dual-labelled (C-13 and N-15) diatoms. The second experiment was repeated 2 months later to assess the effect of seasonality. The simulated food pulses represented additions of 650 - 800 mg C m(-2) and 120 mg N m(-2) to the seafloor. In all cases rapid incorporation of tracer was observed within 4 days, with between 20% and 52% of the macrofauna displaying evidence of enrichment. However, incorporation levels of both C-diatom and N-cocco were low (

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere80510
Number of pages15
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2013


  • tricarboxylic-acid cycle
  • deep-sea nematodes
  • particulate organic-carbon
  • antarctic peninsula shelf
  • benthic boundary-layer
  • Eastern North Pacific
  • time-series station
  • food-web structure
  • NE Pacific
  • stable-isotopes


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