Trophic complexity in marine sediments: new evidence ...



Title Trophic complexity in marine sediments: new evidence from the Gulf of St. Lawrence
Author(s) Pedro A. Quijon, Paul V. R. Snelgrove
Journal Marine Ecology Progress Series
Date 2008
Volume 371
Start page 85
End page 89
Abstract The potential for predatory infaunal species to increase trophic complexity in marine sedimentary habitats has been debated in the past; however, the status of predatory infauna as a distinct trophic level remains controversial. Specifically, it is unclear whether these assemblages can be accurately depicted by a 3-level trophic model in which predatory infauna constitutes a critical intermediate trophic link between epibenthic predators and other infauna. Here, we specifically address whether the key requirement for recognition of a 3-level trophic structure (namely that 'epibenthic predators must selectively prey on predatory infauna') is supported by new experimental evidence from 2 contrasting habitats in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. Our results unambiguously support a 3-trophic level model and raise a series of questions on the current understanding of the trophic structure of marine sedimentary habitats.
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