What is the Role of Particulate Organic Matter in Benthic Invertebrate Nutrition?
Research on the role of detritus in benthic invertebrate nutrition has passed through stages where its importance has been deemphasized, relative to microbial organisms, and then reemphasized as a possible nutritional source–particularly the labile forms. The studies supporting these various conclusions rely upon laboratory experiments and microcosms and ignore the complex field situation. Given the variation in detritus supply and quality among habitats, this approach is unwise. Our work with the deposit-feeding gastropod Hydrobia totteni points to the importance of microalgae and suggests that detritus in Spartina marsh mud flats may contribute little to nutrition. Seasonal influxes of more labile Ulva detritus complicates the picture, however, especially by an indirect beneficial effect on microalgae. We suggest that most detritus-microbe-animal interactions will require field manipulation experiments, in conjunction with experiments in microcosms. Care must be taken in microcosms that conditions match those of the field.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1984-11-01
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