||Pascal P.Y., Dupuy C, Mallet C, Richard P, Niquil N
||Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology (Elsevier), 2008-02 , Vol. 355 , N. 1 , P. 18-26
||Tracer, Stable isotope, Sediment, Grazing, Bacteria
||The fate of benthic bacterial biomass in benthic food webs is a topic of major importance but poorly described. This paper describes an alternative method for evaluation of bacterial grazing rate by meiofauna and macrofauna using bacteria pre-enriched with stable isotopes. Natural bacteria from the sediment of an intertidal mudflat were cultured in a liquid medium enriched with 15NH4Cl. Cultured bacteria contained 2.9% of 15N and were enriched sufficiently to be used as tracers during grazing experiments. Cultured bacteria presented a biovolume (0.21 μm3) and a percentage of actively respiring bacteria (10%) similar to those found in natural communities. The number of Operational Taxon Units found in cultures fluctuated between 56 and 75% of that found in natural sediment. Despite this change in community composition, the bacterial consortium used for grazing experiments exhibited characteristics of size, activity and diversity more representative of the natural community than usually noticed in many other grazing studies. The bacterial ingestion rates of three different grazers were in the range of literature values resulting from other methods: 1149 ngC ind−1h−1 for the mud snail Hydrobia ulvae, 0.027 ngC ind−1 h−1 for the nematode community, and 0.067 ngC ind−1 h−1 for the foraminifera Ammonia tepida. The alternative method described in this paper overcomes some past limitations and it presents interesting advantages such as short time incubation and in situ potential utilisation.