Seasonal dynamics of the epibiont food web on Unio tumidus (Philipsson, 1788) in a eutrophic reservoir

Eur J Protistol. 2019 Jun:69:138-150. doi: 10.1016/j.ejop.2019.04.003. Epub 2019 Apr 13.


Bivalves represent one of the most important components of freshwater zoobenthos, and their shells provide a substrate for many organisms to create epibiotic communities of predominantly facultative nature. Thus far, information regarding colonization of Unio tumidus by microorganism assemblages has been almost absent. Moreover, data on the functioning of trophic networks created by epibionts are also unavailable. Therefore, the present study aimed to examine the assemblage of epibiotic microorganisms inhabiting live and dead bivalves with regard to the physicochemical properties of the habitat and determine whether stable isotope levels in primary producers and consumers colonizing bivalve shells exhibit significant seasonal variability. The substrate characteristic and physicochemical properties of water - primarily biogenic compounds and total organic carbon clearly modified the taxonomic composition of microorganisms and the function of the trophic network. This was reflected by the increased diversity of microorganisms (phycoflora, ciliates and rotifers) on live bivalves and the increase in their abundance on dead bivalves. The level of stable isotopes exhibited clear seasonal variability in individual components of the epibiotic trophic network, whereas food preferences of the potential consumers (protozoans and rotifers) depended significantly on the availability and abundance of food.

Keywords: Ciliates; Epizoic microorganisms; Eutrophication; Microbial loop; Rotifera.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Food Chain*
  • Seasons*
  • Unio / microbiology*
  • Unio / parasitology*