PIE LTER, stable isotope chemistry (carbon, nitrogen and sulfur) for food web analysis of functional groups in the Plum Island Sound Estuary, Massachusetts.


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Stable isotopes of primary producers will be compared to stable isotopes of functional groups of organisms at primarily three sites within the estuary that have different dominant sources of organic matter.

The three sites are: Lower (IBYC, SO-3, mouth of Plum Island Sound, 2-3 km upstream of the mouth of the estuary), Middle (OTL, PR-10.1, upper Sound, lower Parker, 8-11 km upstream of the mouth of the estuary) and Upper (P2, PR-21.9, upper Parker, above Middle Rd Bridge (22 km upstream of the mouth of the estuary).  The Lower site is dominated by marine phytoplankton, the Middle site is dominated by a mixture of salt marsh and phytoplankton and the Upper site is dominated by oligohaline phytoplankton and fresh marsh.

Ten functional groups will be sampled at each site (Surface sediment, benthic diatoms, Nereis, mummichog, ribbed mussels, POM, blue mussels, pelagic copepods (Acartia), silversides and soft shell clams (Mya).  Marsh, benthic algae and phytoplankton inputs or benthic vs. pelagic pathways will be evident in the isotopic signals of these functional groups.  Samples will be collected between the middle and end of August to reflect a growing season using recently produced OM.  Samples of 15 – 20 individuals will be pooled for analysis. Some silverside samplings will have 3 different pooled samples for determination of variance.  Often times the same species are not collected at each site due to habitat differences (salinity/discharge) so additional species are collected to try to accomplish task of getting functional groups collected.


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