Sediment community responses to marine vs. terrigenous organic matter in a submarine canyon

W. R. Hunter*, A. Jamieson, V. A I Huvenne, U. Witte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

The Whittard Canyon is a branching submarine canyon on the Celtic continental margin, which may act as a conduit for sediment and organic matter (OM) transport from the European continental slope to the abyssal sea floor. In situ stable-isotope labelling experiments were conducted in the eastern and western branches of the Whittard Canyon, testing short-term (3-7 days) responses of sediment communities to deposition of nitrogen-rich marine (Thalassiosira weissflogii) and nitrogen-poor terrigenous (Triticum aestivum) phytodetritus. 13C and 15N labels were traced into faunal biomass and bulk sediments, and the 13C label traced into bacterial polar lipid fatty acids (PLFAs). Isotopic labels penetrated to 5 cm sediment depth, with no differences between stations or experimental treatments (substrate or time). Macrofaunal assemblage structure differed between the eastern and western canyon branches. Following deposition of marine phytodetritus, no changes in macrofaunal feeding activity were observed between the eastern and western branches, with little change between 3 and 7 days. Macrofaunal C and N uptake was substantially lower following deposition of terrigenous phytodetritus with feeding activity governed by a strong N demand. Bacterial C uptake was greatest in the western branch of the Whittard Canyon, but feeding activity decreased between 3 and 7 days. Bacterial processing of marine and terrigenous OM were similar to the macrofauna in surficial (0-1 cm) sediments. However, in deeper sediments bacteria utilised greater proportions of terrigenous OM. Bacterial biomass decreased following phytodetritus deposition and was negatively correlated to macrofaunal feeding activity. Consequently, this study suggests that macrofaunal-bacterial interactions influence benthic C cycling in the Whittard Canyon, resulting in differential fates for marine and terrigenous OM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-80
Number of pages14
JournalBiogeosciences
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 08 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

submarine canyon
community response
canyons
phytodetritus
canyon
organic matter
sediments
sediment
uptake mechanisms
isotope labeling
Thalassiosira
nitrogen
biomass
continental slope
stable isotopes
branching
continental margin
stable isotope
fatty acid
Triticum aestivum

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Hunter, W. R. ; Jamieson, A. ; Huvenne, V. A I ; Witte, U. / Sediment community responses to marine vs. terrigenous organic matter in a submarine canyon. In: Biogeosciences. 2013 ; Vol. 10, No. 1. pp. 67-80.
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Sediment community responses to marine vs. terrigenous organic matter in a submarine canyon. / Hunter, W. R.; Jamieson, A.; Huvenne, V. A I; Witte, U.

In: Biogeosciences, Vol. 10, No. 1, 08.01.2013, p. 67-80.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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