Thiamine dynamics in the pelagic food web of the Baltic Sea
Sammanfattning: Thiamine (vitamin B1) is involved in several basal metabolic processes. It is an essential compound for many organisms and in aquatic systems it is mainly produced by phytoplankton and prokaryotes and transferred to higher trophic levels through grazing and predation. The occurrence of thiamine deficiency in top predators has been reported from several aquatic systems. In the Baltic populations of the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) this has been observed since 1974 and recently thiamine deficiency has also been reported for Baltic sea birds.This thesis aims at investigating what processes that governs the flow of thiamine from the primary producers to top predators via zooplankton grazers and planktivoric fish. Paper I showed that abiotic stress factors such as salinity, temperature and light conditions can alter the thiamine content of phytoplankton. Paper II showed that abiotic factors indirectly can affect the stress resistance of zooplankton grazers by changing the nutritional quality of their food. In Paper III we found that the in situ thiamine content of zooplankton grazers was directly affected by that of the phytoplankton diet. In Paper IV we found a similar connection between the thiamine contents of Baltic salmon and herring, one of the major salmon prey species. In Paper V we looked at the thiamine content of the pelagic food web of the Baltic Sea as a whole and found a pattern of trophic dilution; the higher the trophic level of an organism (i.e. the further away from the source of thiamine in the food web), the lower was its thiamine content.In all, the results of this thesis suggests a bottom up effect on the thiamine status of the higher trophic levels of the Baltic Sea and that external factors, both natural and man-made, have the capability to affect the thiamine status of the plankton communities and thereby the whole Baltic ecosystem. Thiamine and other micronutrients are not something generally considered in the environmental management of aquatic systems but the results of this thesis suggest that ecological disturbances indirectly can have negative effects on top predators via a disrupted supply of essential substances.
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