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Salinity drives meiofaunal community structure dynamics across the Baltic ecosystem
Stockholm University.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9005-5168
Stockholm University.
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7749-2988
Stockholm University.
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2019 (English)In: Molecular Ecology, ISSN 0962-1083, E-ISSN 1365-294X, Vol. 28, no 16, p. 3813-3829Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Coastal benthic biodiversity is under increased pressure from climate change, eutrophication, hypoxia, and changes in salinity due to increase in river runoff. The Baltic Sea is a large brackish system characterized by steep environmental gradients that experiences all of the mentioned stressors. As such it provides an ideal model system for studying the impact of on-going and future climate change on biodiversity and function of benthic ecosystems. Meiofauna (animals < 1 mm) are abundant in sediment and are still largely unexplored even though they are known to regulate organic matter degradation and nutrient cycling. In this study, benthic meiofaunal community structure was analysed along a salinity gradient in the Baltic Sea proper using high-throughput sequencing. Our results demonstrate that areas with higher salinity have a higher biodiversity, and salinity is likely the main driver influencing meiofauna diversity and community composition. Furthermore, in the more diverse and saline environments a larger amount of nematode genera classified as predators prevailed, and meiofauna-macrofauna associations were more prominent. These findings show that in the Baltic Sea, a decrease in salinity resulting from accelerated climate change will likely lead to decreased benthic biodiversity, and cause profound changes in benthic communities, with potential consequences for ecosystem stability, functions and services.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Blackwell Publishing, 2019. Vol. 28, no 16, p. 3813-3829
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-38682DOI: 10.1111/mec.15179ISI: 000486595200001PubMedID: 31332853Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85071870438OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-38682DiVA, id: diva2:1340709
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2016-00804Science for Life Laboratory - a national resource center for high-throughput molecular bioscienceKnut and Alice Wallenberg FoundationSwedish Research CouncilSwedish Agency for Marine and Water ManagementAvailable from: 2019-08-06 Created: 2019-08-06 Last updated: 2020-05-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Processes and factors governing benthic community dynamics—environmental change in the Baltic Sea
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Processes and factors governing benthic community dynamics—environmental change in the Baltic Sea
2019 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

As drivers of biogeochemical cycles and nutrient recycling, such as carbon turnover, the microbial community is essential in sustaining functioning ecosystems. Together with the metazoan community, the microbial community constitute the majority of all life in the benthos. Environmental change in biotic and abiotic factors may influence the dynamics of these communities, for example through a sorting or driving effect on the community structure through assembly processes. Environmental change, e.g. change in dissolved oxygen concentration, salinity and temperature, can directly or indirectly affect community composition. How, in what way, and to what extent, benthic bacterial and meiofaunal community composition in the eutrophied, brackish benthic environments, in the Baltic Sea sub-basin the Baltic Proper, respond to environmental change is understudied, both at local and seascape scale. This thesis aimed to study and understand the effects of environmental variation on the diversity and biogeographic patterns of Baltic Sea sediment bacterial and meiofaunal communities. A further aim was to understand the links between the different community levels by studying the interaction between meiofaunal- and macrofaunal communities in relation to environmental variation. Community diversity was analysed along a latitudinal transect of national environmental monitoring stations in the Baltic Proper using a framework of metapopulation and metacommunity theory. The analyses were based on environmental genomics, with high-throughput sequencing, bioinformatics

and statistics. The total community genome was analysed using phylogenetic marker gene fragments as a proxy for taxonomic diversity, to investigate diversity, community structure and dynamics. Salinity and oxygen were found to be the main abiotic environmental drivers of benthic community composition and alpha- and beta-diversity patterns. Furthermore, macrofauna-meiofauna interactions were significantly more complex in higher salinity environments. Results also showed that both enhanced environmental gradients and dispersal following a major inflow of saline and oxygenated water from the Atlantic Ocean, influenced the composition of sediment bacterial communities at the seascape scale of the Baltic Sea, as shown by a reduced beta-diversity and increased alpha-diversity, and the development of a significant distance-decay of community similarity. This study also identified strong metapopulation dynamics of the benthic sediment bacterial communities with many satellite and a few core taxa. The outcomes from this study contribute to the understanding of how environmental variation and environmental change relate to changes in Baltic Sea benthic community diversity and composition, and important factors and processes governing community dynamics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2019. p. 29
Keywords
Benthic communities, Baltic Sea, biodiversity, community composition, environmental change, environmental genomics, microbial ecology, Major Baltic Inflow, meta-population
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology Microbiology
Research subject
Environmental Studies; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-39750 (URN)
Presentation
2019-09-23, MC424, Alfred Nobels Allé 7, Huddinge, 11:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-01-09 Created: 2020-01-09 Last updated: 2020-01-09Bibliographically approved

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