Seminar- Dr. Benoit Lebreton, Université de La Rochelle, France
Event Date: Thursday, April 6
Event Time: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Location: Shelby Auditorium

Benthic Algae Count!  Evidence that Benthic Algae Play an Important Role in Coastal Food Webs


Benthic microalgae have been identified as a very important food source fueling coastal food webs in European bare mudflats.  Aim of this presentation is to demonstrate that the important role of benthic microalgae is not only limited to European bare mudflats.  We studied several food webs around the world, in United-States, France, Germany and China, focusing on different coastal habitats, with different tidal characteristics (i.e., intertidal and subtidal) and fueled by very different food sources, from systems dominated by high production of vascular plants (i.e., salt marshes, seagrass beds) to bare habitats (muflats, sandflats) and oyster reefs.  The trophodynamics in these habitats were studied using trophic markers (stable isotopes, fatty acids) and theoretical modelling.  In most of these habitats, we observed that benthic microalgae have an important role in the functioning of food webs.  Aim of this presentation is thus to suggest that researchers should take benthic microalgae into account when assessing the functioning of coastal ecosystems, even if the role of microalgae is difficult to assess due to their microscopical size.