Browsing by Subject "MARINE BIODIVERSITY"

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  • Gammal, Johanna; Hewitt, Judi; Norkko, Joanna; Norkko, Alf; Thrush, Simon (2020)
    The biodiversity crisis has increased interest in understanding the role of biodiversity for ecosystem functioning. Functional traits are often used to infer ecosystem functions to increase our understanding of these relationships over larger spatial scales. The links between specific traits and ecosystem functioning are, however, not always well established. We investigated how the choice of analyzing either individual species, selected modalities, or trait combinations affected the spatial patterns observed on a sandflat and how this was related to the natural variability in ecosystem functioning. A large dataset of 400 benthic macrofauna samples was used to explore distribution patterns. We hypothesized that (1) if multiple species (redundancy) represent a trait combination or a modality their spatial patterns would be smoothed out, and (2) the lost spatial variability within a trait combination or modality, due to the smoothing effect, would potentially affect their utility for predicting ecosystem functioning (tested on a dataset of 24 samples). We predicted that species would show heterogeneous small spatial patterns, while modalities and trait combinations would show larger and more homogeneous patterns because they would represent a collection of many distributions. If modalities and trait combinations are better predictors of ecosystem functioning than species, then the smoother spatial patterns of modalities and trait combinations would result in a more homogeneous landscape of ecosystem function and the number of species exhibiting specific traits would provide functional redundancy. Our results showed some smoothing of spatial patterns progressing from species through modalities to trait combinations, but generally spatial patterns reflected a few dominant key species. Moreover, some individual modalities and species explained more or equal proportions of the variance in the ecosystem functioning than the combined traits. The findings thus suggest that only some spatial variability is lost when species are combined into modalities and trait combinations and that a homogeneous landscape of ecosystem function is not likely.
  • Gammal, Johanna; Järnström, Marie; Bernard, Guillaume; Norkko, Joanna; Norkko, Alf (2019)
    The ongoing loss of biodiversity and global environmental changes severely affect the structure of coastal ecosystems. Consequences, in terms of ecosystem functioning, are, however, difficult to predict because the context dependency of the biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships within these heterogeneous seascapes is poorly understood. To assess the effects of biological and environmental factors in mediating ecosystem functioning (nutrient cycling) in different natural habitats, intact sediment cores were collected at 18 sites on a grain size gradient from coarse sand to silt, with varying organic matter content and vegetation. To assess ecosystem functioning, solute fluxes (O-2, NH4+, PO43-, Si) across the sediment-water interface were measured. The macrofaunal communities changed along the grain size gradient with higher abundance, biomass and number of species in coarser sediments and in habitats with more vegetation. Across the whole gradient, the macrofauna cumulatively accounted for 25% of the variability in the multivariate solute fluxes, whereas environmental variables cumulatively accounted for 20%. Only the biomass and abundance of a few of the most dominant macrofauna species, not the number of species, appeared to contribute significantly to the nutrient recycling processes. Closer analyses of different sediment types (grouped into coarse, medium and fine sediment) showed that the macrofauna was an important predictor in all sediment types, but had the largest impact in fine and medium sediments. The results imply that even if the ecosystem functioning is similar in different sediment types, the underpinning mechanisms are different, which makes it challenging to generalize patterns of functioning across the heterogeneous shallow coastal zones.
  • Rodil, I. F.; Attard, K. M.; Norkko, J.; Glud, R. N.; Norkko, A. (2020)
    A central goal of benthic ecology is to describe the pathways and quantities of energy and material flow in seafloor communities over different spatial and temporal scales. We examined the relative macrobenthic contribution to the seafloor metabolism by estimating respiration and secondary production based on seasonal measurements of macrofauna biomass across key coastal habitats of the Baltic Sea archipelago. Then, we compared the macrofauna estimates with estimates of overall seafloor gross primary production and respiration obtained from the same habitats using the aquatic eddy covariance technique. Estimates of macrobenthic respiration rates suggest habitat-specific macrofauna contribution (%) to the overall seafloor respiration ranked as follows: blue mussel reef (44.5) > seagrass meadow (25.6) > mixed meadow (24.1) > bare sand (17.8) > Fucus-bed (11.1). In terms of secondary production (g C m−2 y−1), our estimates suggest ranking of habitat value as follows: blue mussel reef (493.4) > seagrass meadow (278.5) > Fucus-bed (102.2) > mixed meadow (94.2) > bare sand (52.1). Our results suggest that approximately 12 and 10% of the overall soft-sediment metabolism translated into macrofauna respiration and secondary production, respectively. The hard-bottoms exemplified two end-points of the coastal metabolism, with the Fucus-bed as a high producer and active exporter of organic C (that is, net autotrophy), and the mussel reef as a high consumer and active recycler of organic C (that is, net heterotrophy). Using a combination of metrics of ecosystem functioning, such as respiration rates and secondary production, in combination with direct habitat-scale measurements of O2 fluxes, our study provides a quantitative assessment of the role of macrofauna for ecosystem functioning across heterogeneous coastal seascapes.
  • Norkko, Alf; Villnäs, Anna; Norkko, Joanna; Valanko, Sebastian; Pilditch, Conrad (2013)