Benthic communities in Atlantic Canada continental shelf basins: patterns and their influence on ecosystem functions

Robar, Ashley Nicole (2015) Benthic communities in Atlantic Canada continental shelf basins: patterns and their influence on ecosystem functions. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Macrofauna, an abundant and often patchy constituent of benthic soft sediments, alter important processes such as sediment oxygenation and nutrient fluxes. This study links spatial patterns in faunal biodiversity and ecosystem functions. I collected 39 sediment cores from 4 basins within the Gulf of Maine to characterize fauna and sedimentary characteristics. At coarse taxonomic levels (phyla and feeding guild), faunal composition was homogenous across the Gulf of Maine, whereas species-level taxonomy revealed heterogeneous composition and limited species turnover. Of the abiotic variables, all factors varied locally (across sites within basins) but only bottom depth differed significantly regionally. Ecosystem function varied significantly across and within basin, and additional analyses confirmed polychaete biodiversity, as well as abundance, were significant, positive predictors of secondary (microbial) production. Feeding guild biodiversity predicted more ecosystem functions than species or family level groupings, demonstrating that activity and behaviour better predict ecosystem functions in sediments than species diversity.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 11660
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Keywords: benthic, faunal diversity, ecosystem function, Gulf of Maine, spatial variation, polychaete, community patterns, abiotic factors
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Biology
Date: July 2015
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Atlantic Ocean--Gulf of Maine
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Marine sediments--Sampling--Atlantic Ocean--Gulf of Maine; Marine ecology--Atlantic Ocean--Gulf of Maine; Benthic animals--Atlantic Ocean--Gulf of Maine

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