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Zapata-Hernandez, G, Sellanes J, Thurber AR, Levin LA, Chazalon F, Linke P.  2014.  New insights on the trophic ecology of bathyal communities from the methane seep area off Concepcion, Chile (similar to 36 degrees S). Marine Ecology-an Evolutionary Perspective. 35:1-21.   10.1111/maec.12051   AbstractWebsite

Studies of the trophic structure in methane-seep habitats provide insight into the ecological function of deep-sea ecosystems. Methane seep biota on the Chilean margin likely represent a novel biogeographic province; however, little is known about the ecology of the seep fauna and particularly their trophic support. The present study, using natural abundance stable isotopes, reveals a complex trophic structure among heterotrophic consumers, with four trophic levels supported by a diversity of food sources at a methane seep area off Concepcion, Chile (similar to 36 degrees S). Although methanotrophy, thiotrophy and phototrophy are all identified as carbon fixation mechanisms fueling the food web within this area, most of the analysed species (87.5%) incorporate carbon derived from photosynthesis and a smaller number (12%) use carbon derived from chemosynthesis. Methane-derived carbon (MDC) incorporation was documented in 22 taxa, including sipunculids, gastropods, polychaetes and echinoderms. In addition, wide trophic niches were detected in suspension-feeding and deposit-feeding taxa, possibly associated with the use of organic matter in different stages of degradation (e.g. from fresh to refractory). Estimates of Bayesian standard ellipses area (SEA(B)) reveal different isotopic niche breadth in the predator fishes, the Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides and the combtooth dogfish Centroscyllium nigrum, suggesting generalist versus specialist feeding behaviors, respectively. Top predators in the ecosystem were the Patagonian toothfish D. eleginoides and the dusky cat shark, Bythaelurus canescens. The blue hake Antimora rostrata also provides a trophic link between the benthic and pelagic systems, with a diet based primarily on pelagic-derived carrion. These findings can inform accurate ecosystem models, which are critical for effective management and conservation of methane seep and adjacent deep-sea habitats in the Southeastern Pacific.

Zapata-Hernandez, G, Sellanes J, Thurber AR, Levin LA.  2014.  Trophic structure of the bathyal benthos at an area with evidence of methane seep activity off southern Chile (similar to 45 degrees S). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 94:659-669.   10.1017/s0025315413001914   AbstractWebsite

Through application of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) stable isotope analyses, we investigated the benthic trophic structure of the upper-slope off southern Chile (similar to 45 degrees S) including a recent methane seep area discovered as part of this study. The observed fauna comprised 53 invertebrates and seven fish taxa, including remains of chemosymbiotic fauna (e.g. chemosymbiotic bivalves and siboglinid polychaetes), which are typical of methane seep environments. While in close-proximity to a seep, the heterotrophic fauna had a nutrition derived predominantly from photosynthetic sources (delta C-13 > -21 parts per thousand). The absence of chemosynthesis-based nutrition in the consumers was likely a result of using an Agassiz trawl to sample the benthos, a method that is likely to collect a mix of fauna including individuals from adjacent non-seep bathyal environments. While four trophic levels were estimated for invertebrates, the fish assemblage was positioned within the third trophic level of the food web. Differences in corrected standard ellipse area (SEA(C)), which is a proxy of the isotopic niche width, yielded differences for the demersal fish Notophycis marginata (SEA(C) = 5.1 parts per thousand) and Coelorinchus fasciatus (SEA(C) = 1.1 parts per thousand), suggesting distinct trophic behaviours. No ontogenic changes were detected in C. fasciatus regarding food sources and trophic position. The present study contributes the first basic trophic data for the bathyal area off southern Chile, including the identification of a new methane seep area, among the furthest south ever discovered. Such information provides the basis for the proper sustainable management of the benthic environments present along the vast Chilean continental margin.

Zhang, J, Gilbert D, Gooday AJ, Levin L, Naqvi SWA, Middelburg JJ, Scranton M, Ekau W, Pena A, Dewitte B.  2010.  Natural and human-induced hypoxia and consequences for coastal areas: synthesis and future development. Biogeosciences. 7:1443-1467., France: European Geosciences Union AbstractWebsite

Hypoxia has become a world-wide phenomenon in the global coastal ocean and causes a deterioration of the structure and function of ecosystems. Based on the collective contributions of members of SCOR Working Group #128, the present study provides an overview of the major aspects of coastal hypoxia in different biogeochemical provinces, including estuaries, coastal waters, upwelling areas, fjords and semi-enclosed basins, with various external forcings, ecosystem responses, feedbacks and potential impact on the sustainability of the fishery and economics. The obvious external forcings include freshwater runoff and other factors contributing to stratification, organic matter and nutrient loadings, as well as exchange between coastal and open ocean water masses. Their different interactions set up mechanisms that drive the system towards hypoxia. Coastal systems also vary in their relative susceptibility to hypoxia depending on their physical and geographic settings. It is understood that coastal hypoxia has a profound impact on the sustainability of ecosystems, which can be seen, for example, by the change in the food-web structure and system function; other influences include compression and loss of habitat, as well as changes in organism life cycles and reproduction. In most cases, the ecosystem responds to the low dissolved oxygen in non-linear ways with pronounced feedbacks to other compartments of the Earth System, including those that affect human society. Our knowledge and previous experiences illustrate that there is a need to develop new observational tools and models to support integrated research of biogeochemical dynamics and ecosystem behavior that will improve confidence in remediation management strategies for coastal hypoxia.

Zirino, A, Neira C, Maicu F, Levin LA.  2013.  Comments on and implications of a steady-state in coastal marine ecosystems. Chemistry & Ecology. 29:86-99.   10.1080/02757540.2012.696613   AbstractWebsite

Coastal ecosystems can be thought of as being established by a number of physico-geochemical drivers, e.g. geochemistry and bathymetry of the basins, climate, tidal and freshwater flows, natural and anthropogenic inputs of nutrients and toxins, all of which exert an influence on the resulting communities of organisms. Depending on the interactions among the major drivers, ecosystems may occur on both large and small scales and be basin-wide or within basins. For individual and separate ecosystems to exist with some permanence in time, e.g. reach a steady-state, they also have to be ‘defended’. Defences are mechanisms that counter changes to maintain the status quo. We argue, and present evidence to support the notion, that the defence mechanisms are inextricably tied to primary production and the biogeochemical cycling of organic matter and provide buffers that mitigate potentially adverse impacts by trace toxins. Colloid pumping, production of complexing ligands and sulfide formation are some of the mechanisms that control trace substances. Current methods for assessing ecosystems do not address the issue of steady-state, nor do they take account of defence activities, e.g. buffering. Therefore, they cannot assess the ‘robustness’ of ecosystems or their ability to resist change, for good or bad. Also, defence mechanisms may, for a time, mask future potentially serious impacts, suggesting that monitoring efforts with limited budgets should consider the measurement of the inputs into ecosystems as well as the immediate or short-term result of the inputs. [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]Copyright of Chemistry & Ecology is the property of Taylor & Francis Ltd and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

Zirino, A, Elwany H, Neira C, Maicu F, Mendoza G, Levin LA.  2014.  Salinity and its variability in the Lagoon of Venice, 2000–2009. Advances in Oceanography and Limnology. 5:41-59.: Taylor & Francis   10.1080/19475721.2014.900113   Abstract

Yearly averages computed from monthly and bimonthly salinity data collected between 2000 and 2009 from 13 broadly spaced stations in the Venice Lagoon were analysed in view of 30 min data collected semi-continuously during 2009 at nine similarly located stations. Data from all stations and all years indicate that, based on yearly averages, the lagoon may be divided along its major (long) axis into three areas: 1) a northern, freshwater impacted area (S = <28 PSU) of high, tidally-caused, variability, 2) a southern, marine, zone of S >32 PSU of low, tidally-caused, variability, and 3) an intermediate zone. Salinity changes are closely associated with rainfall events, and the incoming freshwater is consistently distributed throughout the lagoon by tidal action. Much variability is simply a result of the forward and backward motion of the tides and is not caused by a salinity change in the water itself. The consistency of the 2000?2009 data and the historical (to 1961) watershed record support the hypothesis that the Venice Lagoon has been and is currently at steady-state with respect to its salinity distribution. As such, it is conducive to the development of (at least) three separate ecosystems.