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The Effects Of Feeding By The Sand Dollar Mellita Quinquiesperforata (Leske) On The Benthic Microbial Community

R. Findlay, D. White
Published 1983 · Biology

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Abstract Sediments in which a sand dollar, Mellita quinquiesperforata (Leske) (Echinodermata), had fed, were analyzed by multiple biochemical methods to determine which members of the microbial community were utilized as food and the effects of the feeding disturbance on microbial activity. Included in the study were both field and microcosm experiments. Feeding by M. quinquiesperforata increased the zone of oxidized sediment, and decreased several lipid components of the microbiota and the number of vital staining foraminifera without significantly changing the total chlorophyll a , the proportion of lipid components, or the rate of acetate incorporation into lipid. These findings, in agreement with literature reports concerning sediment grain size selection and gut content analysis, demonstrate that M. quinquiesperforata selectively feeds on microeucaryotes and the bacteria attached to the silt and clay fraction of the sediments. Comparison of the field and microcosm experiments illustrates not only the value of microcosm experiments, but a need for careful evaluation of the changes induced by bringing sediments into the laboratory and how these changes will affect the process under study.
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