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Deconvolving feeding niches and strategies of abyssal holothurians from their stable isotope, amino acid, and fatty acid composition
Stratmann, T.; van Breugel, P.; Sweetman, A.K.; Van Oevelen, D. (2023). Deconvolving feeding niches and strategies of abyssal holothurians from their stable isotope, amino acid, and fatty acid composition. Mar. Biodiv. 53(6).
In: Marine Biodiversity. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 1867-1616; e-ISSN 1867-1624, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Echinodermata; NLFA; PLFA; Sea cucumber; Diet; Deep sea; Biosynthetic pathway

Auteurs  Top 
  • Stratmann, T., meer
  • van Breugel, P., meer
  • Sweetman, A.K.
  • Van Oevelen, D., meer

    Holothurians are the dominant megabenthic deposit feeders in the Peru Basin (SE Pacific) and feed to various degrees of selectivity on a heterogenous pool of sedimentary detritus, but drivers of feeding selectivity and diet preferences for most holothurian species are unknown. This study reconstructs the diets of 13 holothurian species of the orders Elasipodida, Holothuriida, and Synallactida. Bulk stable isotope analyses (δ13C, δ15N) of holothurian body wall and gut wall tissues, gut contents, and feces were combined with compound-specific stable isotope analyses of amino acids, phospholipid-derived fatty acids, and neutral-lipid-derived fatty acids in the body wall. We further assessed how holothurians in the Peru Basin partition their resources and calculated how much of the daily particulate organic carbon (POC) flux to the area is ingested by them using information about gut contents of nine species. To assess the dependence of holothurians on fresh phytodetritus, we performed in situ pulse-chase experiments using 13C- and 15N-enriched phytodetritus. By measuring the uptake of this phytodetritus in fatty acids and amino acids and by comparing it with the presence of these compounds in the sediment, we calculated net accumulation and net deficiency for specific fatty acids and amino acids and discussed how climate change might affect the dependence on specific compounds. A Sørensen–Dice coefficient-based cluster analysis using data from trophic levels, levels of heterotrophic re-synthesis of amino acids, feeding selectivity, and food sources/diet suggested two major trophic groups with two optional subgroups each. Species-specific traits of locomotion, tentacle morphology, and gut structure likely allow resource partitioning and differences in selectivity among the holothurians, of which a subpopulation of 65% of all specimens can ingest 4 to 27% of the daily POC flux to the Peru Basin. Holothurians are specifically dependent on the uptake of arachidonic acid from phytodetritus, while most essential amino acids are available in the Peru Basin in sufficient concentrations.

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