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Ocean connectivity drives trophic support for consumers in an intermittently closed coastal lagoon

December 17, 2021

Estuarine food webs are complex, as marine, freshwater, and terrestrial inputs combine and contribute variable amounts of organic material. Seasonal fluctuations in precipitation amplify the dynamism inherent to estuarine food webs, particularly in lagoonal estuaries, which can be seasonally closed and disconnected from the ocean in low-runoff periods (bar-built lagoons). Despite their abundance along coastlines in Mediterranean climates, the organic matter sources fueling bar-built lagoon food webs are poorly understood, particularly with respect to seasonal hydrologic variability, episodic marine connections, and internal nutrient cycling. In this study, we evaluate the food web of a bar-built lagoon with respect to seasonal differences in lagoon water quality, the sources of organic matter which support consumers, and the trophic ecology of resident fishes. Observed water quality conditions reflected biogeochemical processes associated with salinity-driven stratification and high lagoon residence times and were associated with strong seasonal differences in the contribution of different organic matter sources to lagoon consumers. A variety of organic matter sources supported consumers; marine inputs were important to lagoon food webs in spring when the lagoon was open, while summer food webs were largely driven by phytoplankton which was likely fueled by internal nutrient cycling. Fish diets were largely comprised of crustaceans and fish eggs, with clearly defined trophic niches in spring but high overlap in summer. This study demonstrates that the seasonal changes in bar-built lagoon food webs are largely dependent on ocean connectivity and internal cycling within the lagoon, rather than watershed processes as is typical for many estuaries.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Ocean connectivity drives trophic support for consumers in an intermittently closed coastal lagoon
DOI 10.1016/j.ecss.2021.107665
Authors Matthew Young, Frederick Feyrer, Darren Fong, Rachel C. Johnson, Tamara E. C. Kraus, Veronica Larwood, Elizabeth Stumpner, Megan B. Young
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Index ID 70236246
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center