Species-specific sensitivity of dinoflagellate cysts to aerobic degradation: A five-year natural exposure experiment

gerard.versteegh [ at ] awi.de


Post-depositional sedimentary dinoflagellate cyst associations undergo species-selective degradation under oxic conditions. However, there is little known about the temporal relationship between oxygen concentration and bulk dinocyst degradation rate over the time scale of several years, and if this degradation is mainly microbial or chemical. Whilst the overall sensitivity of heterotrophic dinoflagellate cysts is well documented, sensitivity differences within this group have not been studied. Here we examine the rates of cyst degradation of heterotrophic species over short temporal scales across an anoxic–oxic gradient. Sediment with a known dinoflagellate cyst association largely dominated by heterotrophic dinoflagellates, were connected to trap arrays at two different locations, Cap Blanc (NW Africa) and Gotland Basin (central Baltic Sea) and exposed to four different ambient oxygen concentrations representing a complete oxic gradient from 5.1 mL/L to sulphate bearing anoxic waters. Two treatments of either gauze or dialyse membrane in triplicate were established to investigate the effects of chemical or bacterial degradation. Cyst loss was significant at oxic settings, rapidly occurring within the first year of exposure (32%) whereas no significant degradation was observed for suboxic and anoxic exposures. Compiling the degradation rates of individual species under the different exposure settings reveals an overall species sensitivity ranking amongst cysts of heterotrophic species. Species of average resistance: Bitectatodinium spongium, Brigantedinium spp., Echinidinium spp., Echinidinium aculeatum, and Gymnodinium trapeziforme. Species more resistant than average: Stelladinium robustum and Trinovantedinium applanatum. We observe that oxic degradation of cysts of heterotrophic dinoflagellates is fast and selective with maximal cyst association changes during the first year of oxic exposure. These aspects have to be taken into account in palaeoenvironmental and palaeoceanographic reconstructions where bottom/pore water conditions of the upper sediments are oxygenated.

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DOI 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2017.09.002

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Gray, D. , Zonneveld, K. A. and Versteegh, G. J. (2017): Species-specific sensitivity of dinoflagellate cysts to aerobic degradation: A five-year natural exposure experiment , Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology . doi: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2017.09.002

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