Influence of food-web structure on the biodegradability of lake sediment

Loic Charles Pierre Harrault, Beatrice Allard, Michael Danger, Florence Maunoury-Danger, Alexis Guilpart, Gerard Lacroix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


1. Sediment plays a key role in internal nutrient cycling and eutrophication in lakes. However, studies focusing on the efficiency of the biomanipulation techniques for improving the control of primary producers have rarely examined the effects of changes in food-web structure on the sediment biochemical composition and biodegradability. 2. In a 1-year experiment conducted in large replicated mesocosms, we tested how the absence or presence of a zooplanktivorous fish (roach, Rutilus rutilus) affected the elemental composition and the potential biodegradability of recently deposited sediment in a eutrophic system. The potential biodegradability of these sediments was assessed in laboratory microcosms by measuring the production of CO2 during 44-day incubations. 3. The potential biodegradability of recently deposited sediment from the fish treatment was 60% higher than that from the fishless treatment. This higher biodegradability was corroborated by a higher annual loss of sediment in fish enclosures (36%) than in fishless ones (16%). Annual losses of carbon, nitrogen and organic phosphorous were higher for sediment from fish enclosures. 4. Carbon and nitrogen contents of sediment were higher for the fish treatment. In contrast, the sediment C/N ratio, one of the proxies used to estimate sediment biodegradability, did not differ between treatments. No relationship was observed between elemental composition of sediment and its potential biodegradability. This latter appeared to be more probably dependent on the biochemical composition of the sediment and especially on the content of labile compounds such as proteins, sugars and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The use of sterols as biomarkers revealed an important degradation by microorganisms of 1-year-old sediment from both fish and fishless treatments. 5. Our results revealed that fish biomanipulations might favour clear water states not only through a stronger topdown control on phytoplankton but also through a lower biodegradability of sediment reducing internal nutrient cycling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2390-2400
Number of pages11
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • biomanipulation
  • nutrient cycles
  • sediment biodegradability
  • sterol biomarkers
  • trophic cascade
  • water benthic community
  • organic-matter
  • shallow lakes
  • amino-acids
  • microbial processes
  • mesotrophic lake
  • phosphorus
  • degradation
  • nitrogen
  • phytoplankton


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