A trophic link between the cold-water coral Desmophyllum dianthus and filter-feeding bivalves?


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thomas.heran [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

Cold-water corals play an important role as ecosystem engineers by providing the three-dimensional structural basis and habitat for a rich associated fauna. In southern Chile, the cold-water scleractinian Desmophyllum dianthus populates the steep walls of Comau Fjord. Where its principal energy source, the zooplankton, is less abundant in winter. This coral specie is often associated with filter-feeders, but the nature and possible trophic significance of this relationship remains enigmatic. Dense belts of the mussel Aulacomya atra and the brachiopod Magellania venosa thrive in the productive waters above and between D. dianthus, and both, visual observation and diver-operated push net samples revealed a rain of biodeposits (faeces and pseudofaeces) from these filter-feeders to the corals. This study aims to determine if the conversion by filter-feeders of microscopic plankton inaccessible to corals to macroscopic strings of faeces and pseudofaeces accessible to the corals’ tentacles may represent a new and so far overlooked trophic link channeling surface production to the corals. Preliminary in vitro experiments show that D. dianthus ingests biodeposits of the mussel Mytilus edulis, but only after the consumption of juvenile krill (Euphausia pacifica). This indicates that biodeposits of active filter feeders may play a role as a food supplement for corals. Follow-up experiments with biodeposits produced under natural conditions by the native filter-feeder community are expected to compound the evidence.



Item Type
Conference (Poster)
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Primary Division
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Peer revision
Not peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Published
Event Details
XXXVIII Congreso de Ciencias del Mar, Valdivia, 14 May 2018 - 18 May 2018.
Eprint ID
47339
Cite as
Heran, T. , Laudien, J. , Häussermann, V. , Försterra, G. , Gozález, H. and Richter, C. (2018): A trophic link between the cold-water coral Desmophyllum dianthus and filter-feeding bivalves? , XXXVIII Congreso de Ciencias del Mar, Valdivia, 14 May 2018 - 18 May 2018 .


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