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Investigating how green crab extinction affects seabed ecosystems in Irish waters Hunter, William.. The Queen's University of Belfast, 17 Jun 2015. Experiment
I will establish a series of artificial ecosystems within the large mesocosm facility at Queen's Marine Lab, Portaferry (http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/QueensUniver...). Sediments will be sampled from a local field site and
transferred into forty 45 L mesocosms at the mesocosm facility. Surface dwelling megafauna
will be removed and treatments be established manipulating the abundance of the shore crab (Carcinus maenas) from natural abundances (determined by field survey) down to extinction (0). Mesocosm experiments will be replicated (n=5), and the development of the microalgal biofilm and changes in sediment oxygen penetration monitored throughout the experiment. At the end
of each incubation, the crabs will be removed and the sediments will be
sampled using 8 cm diameter push cores and horizontally sectioned for analysis of the sediment macrofaunal
assemblage, microbial assemblage and geochemistry.
Sample processing and analysis. Macrofauna
will be identified to the lowest taxonomic level (genus/species where possible) and assemblage structure determined
for each mesocosm. Macrofaunal biomass and diet will then be determined for each
mesocosm using state of the art isotope ratio mass-spectroscopy (IRMS) techniques. Changes in bulk sediment
geochemistry (total organic carbon and total nitrogen) and the isotopic signatures of the sediment will be
determined by IRMS. This will provide a proxy for crab-driven changes in sediment organic matter
content and bioturbation. Differences in microbial community between treatments will be tested using compound-
specific gas chromatography IRMS to the concentration and isotopic signatures of polar lipid fatty acids (PLFAs). PLFAs
are a biomarker for the microbial community, which allow contributions of bacteria, fungi and microalgae to
biomass and metabolism to be quantified.
Food web modelling will be carried out
using linear inverse modelling (LIM) techniques, to reconstruct carbon/energy flows and examine how changes in crab abundance affect these. By applying this modelling approach it will be
possible to test how changes in crab abundance affect the carbon cycling pathways and linkages between different
organismal groups within a coastal sediment ecosystem.
Queen's University Large Mesocosm Facility
This project has not yet shared any protocols.