Feeding ecology of Liza spp. in a tidal flat: Evidence of the importance of primary production (biofilm) and associated meiofauna

Abstract : Grey mullets are unique among temperate-region fish species in their ability to feed on mudflat biofilm. In this study, we examined mullet feeding strategies on biofilm and associated meiofauna by using a diet study and stable isotope analysis to explore functional interactions between mullets and tidal flats. A stomach vacuity investigation showed that mullets did not import any materials from subtidal areas into the mudflat but exported mud, biofilm, and associated meiofauna. The results of mullet stomach content and fecal analyses, when compared to the availability of tidal flat resources, showed evidence of mullets' ability to ingest and assimilate biofilm and to concentrate major meiofauna grazers such as nematodes, copepods and, secondarily, foraminifers and ostracods. Isotopic ratios confirmed diet investigations, and as recently shown in salt marsh habitats, mullets exhibited an intermediate trophic position, supporting the hypothesis that they can assimilate both biofilm and major meiofauna grazers. The function of the tidal flat as a feeding habitat for gray mullets and the role of mullets as the main export pathway of biofilm from tidal flat ecosystems are discussed.
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Alexandre Carpentier, Serena Como, Christine Dupuy, Christel Lefrançois, Eric Feunteun. Feeding ecology of Liza spp. in a tidal flat: Evidence of the importance of primary production (biofilm) and associated meiofauna. Journal of Sea Research, Elsevier, 2013, 92, pp.86-91. ⟨10.1016/j.seares.2013.10.007⟩. ⟨hal-00932595⟩

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