[OANNES Foro] The role of microphytobenthos in soft‐sediment ecological networks and their contribution to the delivery of multiple ecosystem services
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Journal of Ecology
First published: 11 November 2019
The role of microphytobenthos in soft‐sediment ecological networks and
their contribution to the delivery of multiple ecosystem services
ored=Hope%2C+JA> J.A Hope
ored=Paterson%2C+DM> D.M Paterson <https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.
com/action/doSearch?ContribAuthorStored=Thrush%2C+SF> S.F Thrush
1. Sediment dwelling, microscopic primary producers, that occupy
sediments in the photic zone, are commonly referred to as microphytobenthos
(MPB). The MPB are essential components of soft‐sediment systems, but are
often overlooked when assessing coastal ecosystem functionality and service
2. The MPB are involved in several complex interactions and feedbacks
that underpin the delivery of vital ecosystem services. MPB profoundly
influence the flow and cycling of carbon and nutrients, such as nitrogen,
directly and indirectly underpinning highly productive shallow water marine
foodwebs. The MPB can also stabilise sediments through the formation of
biofilms, and significantly improve water quality by mediating the benthic‐
pelagic coupling of nutrients, sediment and pollutants.
3. The functional role of the MPB is compromised by increasing
anthropogenic pressures such as nutrient enrichment, sedimentation,
herbicides and emerging contaminants such as microplastic pollution.
However, MPB are extremely good at buffering the effects of these land
sourced stressors at the interface between land and sea.
4. Synthesis: Society often appreciates the final provisioning of goods
and services from our coastal marine environments. However, provisioning
services are only possible due to the multitude of supporting and regulating
services that underpin them. MPB are central to benthic ecological networks,
and contribute to ecosystem service delivery through various pathways.
Understanding the critical role of MPB in complex networks is therefore
essential to appreciate their importance in ecosystem function and service
delivery into the future.
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