Benthic microbial abundance and activities in an intensively trawled ecosystem (Thermaikos Gulf, Aegean Sea)

TitleBenthic microbial abundance and activities in an intensively trawled ecosystem (Thermaikos Gulf, Aegean Sea)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsPolymenakou, PN, Pusceddu A, Tselepides A, Polychronaki T, Giannakourou A, Fiordelmondo C, Hatziyanni E, Danovaro R
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Pages2570 - 2584
KeywordsBacterial production, Enzymatic activities, Microbes, Sediments, Trawling impacts

Abundance of benthic bacteria, heterotrophic nanoflagellates and ciliates, extracellular enzymatic activities, bacterial C production, C mineralisation and sediment community oxygen consumption rates were measured in the Thermaikos Gulf (Northeastern Mediterranean), before (September 2001), and during intense trawling activities (October 2001 and February 2002). The biochemical composition of sedimentary organic matter has revealed that bottom trawling had an effect on the trophic state of Thermaikos Gulf. Changes on the benthic microbial food web were also recorded, during the three sampling seasons. Even though trawling-induced sediment resuspension did not alter significantly the abundance of the microbial components, with the exception of the most impacted station, it determined changes regarding their relative importance. Thus, the ratios of bacterium to nanoflagellates and ciliate to nanoflagellates abundance increased in the trawled stations, causing a sudden increase in bacterial C production, in comparison to the non-trawled station. Four months later, the effects of trawling on the microbial food web were less evident, masked possibly by the drastic decrease in the water temperature. The results of the present work suggest that bottom trawling induces alteration of the sedimentological variables and can be considered as a factor affecting the function of the microbial food web in marine coastal ecosystems. These alterations cause faster mobilisation of organic C buried in the sediment and increase nutrient concentrations and availability in the system, thus inducing an effect that could lead to coastal eutrophication. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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