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Mar Pollut Bull. 2007 Nov;54(11):1789-800. Epub 2007 Sep 10.

A trophic model for the Danshuei River Estuary, a hypoxic estuary in northern Taiwan.

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Department of Life Sciences, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung 402, Taiwan, ROC.


The estuary of the Danshuei River, a hypoxic subtropical estuary, receives a high rate of untreated sewage effluent. The Ecopath with Ecosim software system was used to construct a mass-balanced trophic model for the estuary, and network analysis was used to characterize the structure and matter flow in the food web. The estuary model was comprised of 16 compartments, and the trophic levels varied from 1.0 for primary producers and detritus to 3.0 for carnivorous and piscivorous fishes. The large organic nutrient loading from the upper reaches has resulted in detritivory being more important than herbivory in the food web. The food-chain length of the estuary was relatively short when compared with other tropical/subtropical coastal systems. The shortness of food-chain length in the estuary could be attributed to the low biomass of the top predators. Consequently, the trophic efficiencies declined sharply for higher trophic levels due to low fractions of flows to the top predators and then high fractions to detritus. The low biomass of the top predators in the estuary was likely subject to over-exploitation and/or hypoxic water. Summation of individual rate measurements for primary production and respiration yielded an estimate of -1791 g WW m(-2) year(-1), or -95 g C m(-2) year(-1), suggesting a heterotrophic ecosystem, which implies that more organic matter was consumed than was produced in the estuary.

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