Seasonality of in situ respiration rate in three temperate benthic suspension feeders

Coma, Rafel, Marta Ribes, Josep-Maria Gili, Mikel Zabala

Limnol. Oceanogr., 47(1), 2002, 324-331 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2002.47.1.0324

ABSTRACT: Natural respiration rates of suspension feeders in temperate ecosystems are still poorly known. This lack of information constrains our understanding of the functioning and dynamics of benthic marine ecosystems in temperate areas.We examined the in situ seasonal variation in respiration rate of three benthic suspension feeders (a sponge, an ascidian, and a gorgonian) in northwestern Mediterranean sublittoral communities using a recirculating flow respirometry system. The in situ technique is shown to be highly applicable to seasonal studies of the physiological energetics of benthic suspension feeders. Respiration rates of the three species varied two- to threefold through the annual cycle, exhibiting a marked seasonal pattern but showing no daily cycle or significant day-today variability within months. The respiration rate of the sponge and ascidian, active suspension feeders, increased with temperature. The respiration rate of the gorgonian, a passive suspension feeder, did not correlate with temperature. We estimated a Q10 of 1.1, which indicates that respiration rate in this species is not highly dependent on temperature. Synthesis of new tissue of some Mediterranean benthic suspension feeders, such as gorgonians, does not correlate with temperature, which allowed us to isolate the effects of temperature and synthesis of new tissue on respiration rate. Synthesis of new tissue increased respiration rate of the gorgonian by ~40%. The low rate of synthesis of new tissue during summer, together with the contraction of polyps and the low Q10, explains the low respiration rates of the gorgonian observed during the period of highest temperature. These low respiration rates support the hypothesis that energy limitations may underlie summer dormancy in some benthic suspension-feeding taxa in the Mediterranean.

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