The role of <i>Heteromastus filiformis</i> (Capitellidae, Polychaeta) in organic carbon cycling

Neira, C, Hopner T.  1994.  The role of Heteromastus filiformis (Capitellidae, Polychaeta) in organic carbon cycling. Ophelia. 39:55-73.

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benthic microflora, copepod fecal pellets, deposit-feeders, dutch, marine-sediments, nuchal organs, particle selection, shallow-water station, solute transport, wadden sea, western kiel bight


Carbon transport rates were estimated from the pellet production rates and the organic carbon content of fresh fecal pellets of Heteromastus filiformis. With an annual mean individual density of 1.200 per m2, an annual mean pellet production of 36 kg/m2 (dry weight) and an annual mean carbon content of 2% in the pellets, Heteromastus brings from about 20 cm depth to the surface 2 g C/m2/day or 730 g C/m2/year. In fresh fecal pellets the content of finer particles was two-fold, and the content of organic carbon in the pellets was 2.4-fold higher than in the feeding zone sediment. Fine particles in the pellets are richer in organic carbon and protein than those in deep sediment. This points to selective feeding. Meiofauna accelerated the destruction of Heteromastus pellets. After 20 days in the presence of meiofauna, only 15% of the initial pellets were still intact, i.e. with sharp margins, while 79% were partially destructed but were still recognizable as such. In the absence of meiofauna 96% of the pellets were still intact. Results are discussed with respect to feeding strategies and contribution to carbon recycling.