Short-term variations in the fluxes and composition of seston in near-bottom traps in the southern North Sea
© Springer-Verlag and AWI 2002
Received: 15 January 2001
Accepted: 15 November 2001
In this study we attempted to measure the potential food availability for macrobenthic interface feeders using a new device (sediment recorder) which traps bed load particles at a height of 10 cm above the sea floor. The recorder is positioned flat on the seabed and alternately exposes a shallow collector mounted in a smooth surface mimicking the sediment surface. The samples were analyzed for their content of chlorophyll a (Chl) and dry weight (DM). We compared the sediment recorder data with the results obtained with a sediment trap suspended 3.2 m above the sea floor. Measurements were carried out in spring and fall at two stations in the southern North Sea with different sediment type, maximum current velocities and biomass (sand, station B vs silty sand, station F). The recorder deployments in November yielded higher Chl fluxes and a higher quality of particles (Chl:DM ratio) than the trap at both stations. Unlike the trap samples, in which Chl and DM were always positively and strongly correlated, maximum Chl and DM fluxes in the recorder samples were out of phase, particularly at station B, pointing to a highly variable quality during the tidal cycle. Unexpectedly, Chl fluxes and Chl:DM ratios in the recorder samples at station B were higher than at station F in both seasons, although the benthic biomass at the latter station was five times higher. The highest Chl fluxes and particle quality (Chl:DM) at station B were measured during slack tides when interface feeding would be least hampered by drag forces. Station B is nevertheless characterized by a low macrobenthic biomass and a scarcity of interface feeders, specifically of suspension-feeding bivalves. Possible reasons for this apparent discrepancy are discussed.