, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 732–744 | Cite as

Linking Land and Sea: Different Pathways for Marine Subsidies

  • Kajsa Mellbrand
  • Paul S. Lavery
  • Glenn Hyndes
  • Peter A. Hambäck


Nutrients and energy derived from marine autotrophs subsidize shore ecosystems, increasing productivity and affecting food web dynamics and structure. In this study we examined how the inland reach of such inflow effects depends on vectors carrying the marine inflow inland and on landscape structure. We used stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen to examine the roles of arthropod vectors in carrying marine-derived nutrients inland in two very different shore ecosystems: shore meadows in Sweden with marine inflows of algae and emerging chironomid midges; and sandy beaches and shore dunes in south-western Australia with marine inflows of algae and seagrass. In a colonization experiment, we found that deposited wrack on the beach is quickly colonized by both grazers and predators. However, in both systems we found a larger inland reach of the marine subsidy than could be accounted for by deposited macrophytes on shores alone, and that dipterans and spiders potentially functioned as vectors for the inflow. Our results indicate that marine inflows are important for near-shore terrestrial ecosystems well above the water’s edge, and that this effect is largely due to arthropod vectors (mainly dipterans and spiders) in both low-productivity sandy beach ecosystems at the Indian Ocean coast of Australia, and more productive shore meadows on the Baltic Sea coast of Sweden. Our findings also suggest that the type of vector transporting marine material inland may be as important as the productivity contrast between ecosystems for explaining the degree of marine influence on the terrestrial system.


spider diets chironomids kelp flies Posidonia 



We want to thank field assistants M. Enskog, J. Jakobsson, P. Mellbrand and P. Kiss. We also want to thank J. Kennedy and the Australian Navy (Commonwealth Department of Defence) at HMAS Stirling for making it possible for us to carry out field work on Garden Island, WA. This study was financially supported by a grant from The Swedish Research Council FORMAS (to PAH) and by a grant from the K & A Wallenberg foundation (to KM).

Supplementary material

10021_2011_9442_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 13 kb)


  1. Anonymous. 2010. Forestry statistics 2010. Official Statistics of Sweden. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå 2010.
  2. Cambridge ML, Hocking PJ. 1997. Annual primary production and nutrient dynamics of the seagrasses Posidonia sinuosa and Posidonia australis in south-western Australia. Aqua Bot 59:277–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carr MH, Neigel JE, Estes JA, Andelman S, Warner RR, Largier JL. 2003. Comparing marine and terrestrial ecosystems: implications for the design of coastal marine reserves. Ecol Appl 13:S90–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Catenazzi A, Donnelly MA. 2007. The Ulva connection: marine algae subsidize terrestrial predators in coastal Peru. Oikos 116:75–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Colombini I, Aloia A, Fallaci M, Pezzoli G, Chelazzi L. 2000. Temporal and spatial use of stranded wrack by the macrofauna of a tropical sandy beach. Mar Biol 136:531–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Colombini I, Aloia A, Bouslama MF, ElGtari M, Fallaci M, Ronconi L, Scapini F, Chelazzi L. 2002. Small-scale spatial and seasonal differences in the distribution of beach arthropods on the northwestern Tunisian coast. Are species evenly distributed along the shore? Mar Biol 140:1001–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Crawley KR, Hyndes GA. 2007. The role of different types of detached macrophytes in the food and habitat choice of a surf-zone inhabiting amphipod. Mar Biol 151:1433–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Crawley KR, Hyndes GA, Vanderklift MA, Revill AT, Nichols PD. 2009. Allochthonous brown algae are the primary food source for consumers in a temperate, coastal environment. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 376:33–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Di Castri F, Hansen AJ. 1992. The environment and development crises as determinants of landscape dynamics. In: Hansen AJ, Di Castri F, Eds. Landscape boundaries. Consequences for biotic diversity and landscape flows. New York: Springer Verlag. p 3–18.Google Scholar
  10. Dugan JE, Hubbard DM, McCrary MD, Pierson MO. 2003. The response of macrofauna communities and shorebirds to macrophyte wrack subsidies on exposed sandy beaches of southern California. Est Coast Shelf Sci 58:25–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Edward DA, Newton J, Gilburn AS. 2008. Investigating dietary preferences in two competing dipterans, Coelopa frigida and Coelopa pilipes, using stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen. Entomol Exp Appl 127:169–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Foelix RF. 1996. Biology of spiders. New York: OUP.Google Scholar
  13. Francis TB, Schindler DE, Moore JW. 2006. Aquatic insects play a minor role in dispersing salmon-derived nutrients into riparian forests in southwestern Alaska. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 63:2543–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Henschel JR, Mahsberg D, Stumpf H. 2001. Allochthonous aquatic insects increase predation and decrease herbivory in river shore food webs. Oikos 93:429–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hyndes GA, Lavery PS. 2005. Does transported seagrass provide an important trophic link in unvegetated, nearshore areas? Est Coast Shelf Sci 63:633–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ince R, Hyndes GA, Lavery PS, Vanderklift MA. 2007. Marine macrophytes directly enhance abundances of sandy beach fauna through provision of food and habitat. Est Coast Shelf Sci 74:77–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Irmler U, Heller K, Meyer H, Reinke H-D. 2002. Zonation of ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and spiders (Araneida) in salt marshes at the North and the Baltic Sea and the impact of the predicted sea level increase. Biodivers Conserv 11:1129–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jedrzejczak MF. 2002. Stranded Zostera marina L. vs wrack fauna community interactions on a Baltic sandy beach (Hel, Poland): a short-term pilot study. Part II. Driftline effects of succession changes and colonisation of beach fauna. Oceanologica 44:367–87.Google Scholar
  19. Kato C, Iwata T, Wada E. 2004. Prey use by web-building spiders: stable isotope analyses of trophic flow at a forest-stream ecotone. Ecol Res 19:633–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kautsky U. 1995. Ecosystem processes in coastal areas of the Baltic sea. Doctoral thesis at the Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, Sweden.Google Scholar
  21. Kirkman H. 1984. Standing stock and production of Ecklonia radiata (C.Ag) J. Agardh. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 76:119–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kirkman H, Kendrick GA. 1997. Ecological significance and commercial harvesting of drifting and beach-cast macro-algae and seagrasses in Australia: a review. J Appl Phycol 9:311–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kolb GS, Jerling L, Hambäck PA. 2010. The effect of cormorants on the plant-arthropod food web on their nesting islands. Ecosystems 13:353–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Langellotto GA, Denno RF. 2004. Responses of invertebrate natural enemies to complex-structured habitats: a meta-analytical synthesis. Oecologia 139:1–10.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Marczak LB, Richardson JS. 2007. Spiders and subsidies: results from the riparian zone of a coastal temperate rainforest. J Anim Ecol 76:687–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Marczak LB, Thompson RM, Richardson JS. 2007. Meta-analysis: trophic level, habitat, and productivity shape the food web effects of resource subsidies. Ecology 88:140–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McCutchan JH, Lewis WM, Kendall C, McGrath CC. 2003. Variation in trophic shift for stable isotope ratios of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur. Oikos 102:378–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mellbrand K, Hambäck PA. 2011. Coastal niches for terrestrial predators: a stable isotope study. Can J Zool 88:1077–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mellbrand K, Östman Ö, Hambäck PA. 2010. Effects of subsidized spiders on coastal food webs in the Baltic Sea area. Basic Appl Ecol 11:450–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Moore JW, Semmens BX. 2008. Incorporating uncertainty and prior information into stable isotope mixing models. Ecol Lett 11:470–80.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Murakami M, Nakano S. 2002. Indirect effect of aquatic insect emergence on a terrestrial insect population through by birds predation. Ecol Lett 5:333–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Oelbermann K, Scheu S. 2002. Stable isotope enrichment (d15N and d13C) in a generalist predator (Pardosa lugubris, Araneae: Lycosidae): effects of prey quality. Oecologia 130:337–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Olabarria C, Lastra M, Garrido J. 2007. Succession of macrofauna on macroalgal wrack of an exposed sandy beach: Effects of patch size and site. Marine Environ Res 63:19–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Orr M, Zimmer M, Jelinski DE, Mews M. 2005. Wrack deposition on different beach types: spatial and temporal variation in the pattern of subsidy. Ecology 86:1496–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Paetzold A, Lee M, Post DM. 2008. Marine resource flows to terrestrial arthropod predators on a temperate island: the role of subsidies between systems of similar productivity. Oecologia 157:653–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Polis GA, Hurd SD. 1996. Allochtonous input across habitats, subsidized consumers, and apparent trophic cascades: examples from the ocean-land interface. In: Polis GA, Winemiller KO, Eds. Food webs: integration of patterns and dynamics. New York: Chapman & Hall. p 275–85.Google Scholar
  37. Polis GA, Anderson WB, Holt RD. 1997. Toward an integration of landscape and food web ecology: the dynamics of spatially subsidized food webs. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 28:289–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Power ME, Rainey WE, Parker MS, Sabo JL, Smyth A, Khandwala S, Finlay JC, McNeely FC, Marsee K, Anderson C. 2004. River-to-watershed subsidies in an old-growth conifer forest. In: Polis GA, Power ME, Huxel GR, Eds. Food webs at the landscape level. London: The University of Chicago Press. p 217–40.Google Scholar
  39. Risser PG. 1990. The ecological importance of land-water ecotones. In: Naiman RJ, Décamps H, Eds. The ecology and management of aquatic-terrestrial ecotones. Paris: UNESCO/Parthenon. p 7–21.Google Scholar
  40. Semmens, BX, Moore, JW. 2008. MixSIR: A Bayesian stable isotope mixing model, Version 1.0 [online]. Accessed 15 September 2009.
  41. Spence KO, Rosenheim JA. 2005. Isotopic enrichment in herbivorous insects: a comparative field-based study of variation. Oecologia 146:89–97.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wiederholm T. 1989. Chironomidae of the Holarctic region: keys and diagnoses. Adult males. Södra Sandby: Entomologica Scandinavica.Google Scholar
  43. Wise DH, Moldenhauer DM, Halaj J. 2006. Using stable isotopes to reveal shifts in prey consumption by generalist predators. Ecol Appl 16:865–76.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Witman JD, Ellis JC, Anderson WB. 2004. The influence of physical processes, organisms, and permeability on cross-ecosystem fluxes. In: Polis GA, Power ME, Huxel GR, Eds. Food webs at the landscape level. London: The University of Chicago Press. p 335–58.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kajsa Mellbrand
    • 1
  • Paul S. Lavery
    • 2
  • Glenn Hyndes
    • 2
  • Peter A. Hambäck
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research, School of Natural SciencesEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia

Personalised recommendations