ABSTRACT: Mediterranean Posidonia oceanica meadows shelter a high biomass and an important biodiversity of amphipod crustaceans. In other temperate meadows, the amphipods play an important part in the functioning of the ecosystem, notably in organic matter transfers from producers to higher level consumers. However, the situation in Posidonia oceanica meadows remains unclear, and little is known about the trophic ecology of amphipods, which are generally regarded as generalist herbivores/detritivores despite the lack of precise studies. Here, we combined gut content examination and trophic markers (fatty acids, stables isotopes of C and N) to delineate the diet of the dominant species of amphipods from Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows and to highlight trophic diversity among this community. Our results indicate that contribution of microepiphytic diatoms and of benthic and suspended particulate organic matter to the diet of amphipods were anecdotal. On the other hand, all dominant species heavily relied on macroalgal epiphytes, suggesting a certain extent of overlapping in the diets of the dominant species. Considerable interspecific differences nonetheless existed, notably concerning grazing preferences towards epiphytes from leaves or litter fragments vs. epiphytes from rhizomes. In addition, the use of the SIAR isotopic mixing model showed that most species had a mixed diet, and relied on several food items. None of the examined species seemed to graze on their seagrass host, but Gammarus aequicauda partly relied on seagrass leaf detritus. Overall, our findings demonstrate that amphipods have the potential to be key-items in trophic and functional interactions occurring among Mediterranean Posidonia oceanica meadows.
8th International Conference on Applications of Stable Isotope Techniques to Ecological Studies (IsoEcol), Brest, France; 08/2012
EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut