Exergy, as the sum of energy and information contained in a given system due to living organisms, can act as a quality indicator of ecosystems. Here, we investigated the exergy of Marsala Lagoon (Mediterranean Sea), along with microbial (prokaryotic and heterotrophic nanobenthos) biomass, prokaryotic heterotrophic production and extracellular enzymatic activities, and the biochemical composition of sediment organic matter. The aim of the study was to assess the role of auxiliary energy (e.g. hydrodynamic stress) in the ecosystem functioning and efficiency of a 'detritus sink' lagoon. Samples were collected at sites characterized by contrasting hydrodynamic and trophic conditions. Exergy transfer through the benthic microbial loop was influenced by two main factors: (1) organic matter bioavailability; and (2) hydrodynamic forcing. At both sites, the values of total exergy were higher in summer than in winter, and the specific exergy decreased from winter to autumn, along with increasing auxiliary energy. Our data indicate that in coastal 'detritus sink' systems, auxiliary energy sources can have a crucial role in exergy transfer and ecosystem functioning through modifying the efficiency of transfer to higher trophic levels of the refractory organic detritus, which is otherwise lost by burial in the sediment. As coastal lagoons are often intensively modified by human activities, we conclude that maintenance of the natural hydrodynamic regimes is a key factor in the preservation of the functioning of lagoon ecosystems and of their provision of goods and services to humans

Exergy, ecosystem functioning, and efficiency in a coastal lagoon: the role of auxiliary energy

PUSCEDDU, ANTONIO;
2009

Abstract

Exergy, as the sum of energy and information contained in a given system due to living organisms, can act as a quality indicator of ecosystems. Here, we investigated the exergy of Marsala Lagoon (Mediterranean Sea), along with microbial (prokaryotic and heterotrophic nanobenthos) biomass, prokaryotic heterotrophic production and extracellular enzymatic activities, and the biochemical composition of sediment organic matter. The aim of the study was to assess the role of auxiliary energy (e.g. hydrodynamic stress) in the ecosystem functioning and efficiency of a 'detritus sink' lagoon. Samples were collected at sites characterized by contrasting hydrodynamic and trophic conditions. Exergy transfer through the benthic microbial loop was influenced by two main factors: (1) organic matter bioavailability; and (2) hydrodynamic forcing. At both sites, the values of total exergy were higher in summer than in winter, and the specific exergy decreased from winter to autumn, along with increasing auxiliary energy. Our data indicate that in coastal 'detritus sink' systems, auxiliary energy sources can have a crucial role in exergy transfer and ecosystem functioning through modifying the efficiency of transfer to higher trophic levels of the refractory organic detritus, which is otherwise lost by burial in the sediment. As coastal lagoons are often intensively modified by human activities, we conclude that maintenance of the natural hydrodynamic regimes is a key factor in the preservation of the functioning of lagoon ecosystems and of their provision of goods and services to humans
Coastal lagoon, Ecosystem functioning, Exergy, Sediments
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11584/123619
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