Microbenthic Net Metabolism Along Intertidal Gradients (Cadiz Bay, SW Spain): Spatio-Temporal Patterns and Environmental Factors
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Author/sHaro, Sara; Lara Rallo, Francisco Miguel; Laiz, Irene; González, Carlos José; Bohórquez, J.; Garcia-Robledo, Emilio; Corzo, Alfonso; Papaspyrou, Sokratis
DepartmentBiología; Física Aplicada
SourceFrontiers in Marine Science Volume 7 Article 39
Microphytobenthos (MPB), the photosynthetic primary producing component of microbenthos, shows variable patterns in its biomass distribution along the intertidal gradient as a result of the interactions of factors such as light, tides, temperature, and grazing pressure. These patterns have been studied more extensively in northern European estuaries than southern European coastal systems. Even less information is available regarding temporal changes in MPB primary production rates in these systems. For this reason, we followed the seasonal changes in net production in light and dark respiration rates (determined by oxygen microelectrodes) and MPB biomass (estimated by sediment chlorophyll a) along the intertidal gradient of the inner Cadiz Bay during a year. Sediment cores were collected along two transects (five sampling stations per transect) with distinct sediment granulometry: one muddy [Puerto Real (PR)] and one muddy-sandy transect [San Fernando (SF)]. Our results show that MPB biomass and net production increased seawards reaching their maxima in winter. In contrast to what is observed in northern European systems, the higher solar irradiance and temperatures occurring in summer in southern Spain likely inhibit MPB production. In Cadiz Bay, spatial patterns of MPB biomass and net production depended on season and location due to the environmental heterogeneity observed. Environmental variables, analyzed by principal component analysis (PCA), were used to explain the variability of MPB metabolism by multiple regression. Selected principal component (PC) axes explained 60% of the net production in light and 41% of the dark respiration rates variability in PR, while they only accounted for 25% of the same rates in SF. The differences observed between transects and the variability in the environmental variables explaining them highlight the importance of considering the spatial heterogeneity of our system to estimate the contribution of MPB to the inner Cadiz Bay productivity. In our case, this contribution is significant accounting for up to 49% of the total benthic production of the inner Cadiz Bay intertidal sediments, confirming previous global estimates.