Does short-term oxygen depletion affect predator-prey relationships in zoobenthos? Experiments with the isopod Saduria entomon

Sandberg, E.

Marine Ecology Progress Series 103(1-2): 73-80


ISSN/ISBN: 0171-8630
Accession: 008498118

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Periodic oxygen deficiency as a secondary effect of eutrophication has become more frequent in coastal zones of the northern Baltic Sea. As a sublethal effect oxygen deficiency may affect important functions in the zoobenthic community, e.g. predator-prey relationships. A method for studying change in predation efficiency of the predatory isopod Saduria entomon (L.) under oxygen-deficient conditions was developed and applied in a series of aquarium experiments with S. entomon as predator and the amphipods Corophium volutator Pallas and Bathyporeia pilosa Lindstrom as prey organisms. C. volutator represents less-active (with respect to swimming) species while B. pilosa is more active. The experiments with S. entomon and C. volutator were performed in 95, 50, 30 and 17% oxygen saturation, and those with S. entomon and B. pilosa in 95, 50 and 35% saturation. S. entomon preyed significantly (p lt 0.01) on C. volutator except at the 17% oxygen level. S. entomon had a significant effect on B. pilosa in 95% (p lt 0.01) and 50% (p lt 0.05) oxygen saturation but the predation effects were significantly reduced in 35% oxygen. These results indicate the existence of oxygen threshold values where predation efficiency of S. entomon declines depending on the prey species. Changes in predation rates may alter prey population size and dynamics. In the species-poor Baltic Sea changes in predator-prey relationships may cause changes at the community level.