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Heatwaves decrease production in benthic diatom communities

Bedolfe, S.L. (2015) Heatwaves decrease production in benthic diatom communities. Master's Thesis / Essay, Biology.

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Benthic diatoms often dominate primary production and contribute to important ecosystem functions on intertidal mudflats. Diatoms fuel the benthic food web and even shape the intertidal landscape by producing extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), which improve the sediment’s resistance to erosion. Experiments indicate that these communities are likely to be sensitive to increased temperatures and more frequent heat stress, corresponding to predicted effects of climate change. In the present study, we tested the effect of a simulated heat wave on mudflat diatoms. Homogenous sediment cores were constructed in the lab using diatom-rich sediment collected on the intertidal mudflat in the Wadden Sea. In a climate chamber, we exposed the cores to a diurnal cycle simulating natural temperature fluctuations for six days, where half of the cores repeatedly experienced moderate temperatures (Control) and the other half experienced a daily increase in peak temperatures (Heatwave). Fluorescence decreased in all samples over time but showed significantly greater decline in the cores exposed to increasing temperatures. However, we detected no significant changes in chlorophyll a or EPS concentrations between the temperature treatments. The results demonstrate that intense heat stress inhibited productivity, but that further study is needed to understand how rising temperatures may change the structure and stability of intertidal mudflat communities.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:03
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:03

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