CIE Spotlight: Utilization of organic matter by invertebrates along an estuarine gradient in an intermittently open estuary

Agnes L., Ty M. and Gerry Q.
Agnes L., Ty M. and Gerry Q.

TitleUtilization of organic matter by invertebrates along an estuarine gradient in an intermittently open estuary.

AuthorsLautenschlager, Agnes D.; Matthews, Ty G.; Quinn, Gerry P.


Brief summary of the paper: In intermittently open estuaries, the sources of organic matter sustaining benthic invertebrates are likely to vary seasonally, particularly between periods of connection and disconnection with the ocean and higher and lower freshwater flows.

This study investigated the contribution of allochthonous and autochthonous primary production to the diet of representative invertebrate species using stable isotope analysis (SIA) during the austral summer and winter (2008, 2009) in an
intermittently open estuary on the south-eastern coast of Australia.

As the study was conducted towards the end of a prolonged period of drought, a reduced influence of freshwater/terrestrial organic matter was expected. Sampling was conducted along an estuarine gradient, including upper, middle and lower reaches and showed that the majority of assimilated organic matter was derived from autochthonous estuarinefood sources.

Additionally, there was an input of allochthonous organic matter, which varied along the length of the estuary, indicated by distinct longitudinal trends in carbon and nitrogen stable isotope signatures along the estuarine gradient. Marine seaweed contributed to invertebrate diets in the lower reaches of the estuary, while
freshwater/terrestrial organic matter had increased influence in the upper reaches.

Suspension-feeding invertebrates derived large parts of their diet from freshwater/terrestrial material, despite flows being greatly reduced in comparison with non-drought years.

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