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Effects of bioturbation and bioirrigation by lugworms (Arenicola marina) on physical and chemical sediment properties and implications for intertidal habitat succession
Volkenborn, N.; Hedtkamp, S.I.C.; van Beusekom, J.E.E.; Reise, K. (2007). Effects of bioturbation and bioirrigation by lugworms (Arenicola marina) on physical and chemical sediment properties and implications for intertidal habitat succession. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 74(1-2): 331-343. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2007.05.001
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 122062 [ MOA ]

Keywords
    Bioturbation; Arenicola marina (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; ANE, Wadden Sea [Marine Regions]; Denmark, Wadden Sea; Netherlands, Wadden Sea

Authors  Top 
  • Volkenborn, N.
  • Hedtkamp, S.I.C.
  • van Beusekom, J.E.E., more
  • Reise, K.

Abstract
    Sediment destabilization by sediment-reworking organisms is common in coastal aquatic environments, but the potential of bioturbation to inhibit shoreline succession has not been suggested previously. The lugworm Arenicola marina is a widespread and dominant large burrower at European Atlantic shores, and a major source of bioturbation and bioirrigation on the extensive intertidal flats in the Wadden Sea (eastern North Sea). The hypothesis that lugworm activities inhibit the successive development from sandy to muddy sediments in depositional embayments has been tested by a large-scale exclusion field experiment. Changes in sediment properties indicate a progressive clogging of interstices with fine particles and organic matter, resulting in lower sediment permeability in exclusion areas compared to lugworm inhabited control areas. Chlorophyll content in the surface layer was consistently higher in the absence of lugworms. Lack of sub-surface irrigation in the absence oflugworms combined with reduced sediment permeability resulted in increased concentrations of ammonium, phosphate, silicate, and sulphide in the pore-water. Concentrations >100 mM of sulphide gave rise to toxic conditions for macrofauna. The effects of lugworms on sediment characteristics were more conspicuous in fine than in medium sand. It is concluded that A. marina contributes to the maintenance of permeable sandand thereby sustaining suitable conditions for the lugworm population itself. Without this ‘‘ecosystem engineer’’ mud flats would greatly expand at the expense of sand flats in the Wadden Sea.

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