In order to classify the trophic state of detritus sink systems, instead of the conventional indicators based on inorganic nutrient availability and algal biomass and productivity in the water column, we used new biochemical descriptors based on the amount of sedimentary organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) potentially available to heterotrophs. We investigated spatial and temporal changes in microphytobenthic biomass, organic matter biochemical composition, and enzymatically hydrolyzable protein and carbohydrate pools along a north-south transect in the Marsala lagoon (Mediterranean Sea, Italy) at three stations characterized by different hydrodynamic conditions and organic matter content in the sediment. In the Marsala lagoon water currents decreased from north to south and this pattern was reflected by organic matter distribution and composition. Sediment organic matter concentrations were among the highest reported in the literature and, in the central area where large meadows of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica were present, display a strong dominance of highly refractory carbohydrates. The protein to carbohydrate ratio was always < 1, indicating the dominance of aged organic detritus. Microphytobenthic biomass displayed an increasing pattern southward, and its contribution to the biopolymeric C pools ranged from negligible in the central sector of the lagoon to 50% in its northern part, indicating that sources of sediment organic C also changed along the hydrodynamic gradient. The percentage contribution of the enzymatically hydrolyzable fraction of proteins and carbohydrates was inversely related to total protein and total carbohydrate concentrations, respectively, suggesting that bioavailability of organic C and N increased with decreasing organic matter content in the sediment and with increasing hydrodynamic regime. Microphytobenthic contribution to biopolymeric C (as a proxy of autotrophic organic C) and the ratio of the enzymatically digestible fraction to biopolymeric C (as an indicator of organic matter liability) were significantly correlated, suggesting that chlorophyll a sediment content might be used as an indicator of food promptly available to consumers. The present study also highlighted that the ratio of labile (i.e., enzymatically digestible) versus biopolymeric organic C in the sediments tends to decrease with increasing organic matter content, due to the increase of the refractory fraction of organic C.
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|Titolo:||Enzymatically hydrolyzable protein and carbohydrate sedimentary pools as indicators of the trophic state of detritus sink systems: a case study in a Mediterranean coastal lagoon|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2003|
|Tipologia:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|