Topping, J.N., Murray, J.W. and Pond, D.W.
Sewage effects on the food sources and diet of benthic foraminifera living in oxic sediment: a microcosm experiment
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 329, (2), . (doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2005.09.013).
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A microcosm experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of sewage-derived particulate organic matter (POM) on the food sources and diets of two species of intertidal benthic foraminifera, Ammonia beccarii and Haynesina germanica, using lipid biomarkers to determine trophic relationships. The lipid content of the sediment and associated micro-organisms was a guide to potential food sources while that of the foraminifera was a guide to what they had actually eaten. Six microcosm tanks were established, with constant salinity, temperature and oxygen content, and each with a thin layer of sediment containing living foraminifera. Three microcosms were used as controls and three were treatments to which the POM from secondary treated sewage was added. Each microcosm was treated as a single replicate (to avoid pseudoreplication). The experiment was run for 38 days. The results showed that the food sources (from the sediment) and the diet of the foraminifera did not significantly differ in the controls or the treatments, but quantities of fatty acids decreased in both the sediment system and the foraminifera over the duration of the experiment. It is concluded that sewage-POM (secondary treatment) does not have a direct effect on the food sources of the foraminifera or their diet. The foraminifera did not feed directly on the sewage-derived POM, nor did the addition of sewage stimulate growth of micro-organisms associated with the sediment system. However, recent field data collected by the authors provides evidence that season plays an important role in foraminiferal response to organic pollution (OP), and microcosm sediment might have been unknowingly collected at a time when foraminifera are now known not to respond to OP, i.e. in summer.
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