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Impact of biotic and abiotic processes on sediment dynamics and the consequences to the structure and functioning of the intertidal zone
Widdows, J.; Brinsley, M. (2002). Impact of biotic and abiotic processes on sediment dynamics and the consequences to the structure and functioning of the intertidal zone. J. Sea Res. 48(2): 143-156. hdl.handle.net/10.1016/S1385-1101(02)00148-X
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

Also published as
  • Widdows, J.; Brinsley, M. (2002). Impact of biotic and abiotic processes on sediment dynamics and the consequences to the structure and functioning of the intertidal zone, in: Philippart, C.J.M. et al. (Ed.) Structuring Factors of Shallow Marine Coastal Communities, part I. Journal of Sea Research, 48(2): pp. 143-156. hdl.handle.net/10.1016/S1385-1101(02)00148-X, more

Available in  Authors 
Document type: Conference paper

Keywords
    Biota; Climatic changes; Climatic factors; Erosion; Intertidal sedimentation; Modelling; Europe, Northwest [Marine Regions]; Marine
Author keywords
    Intertidal sediments; Depositions; Nw europe

Authors  Top 
  • Widdows, J., correspondent, more
  • Brinsley, M.

Abstract
    This paper reviews field and laboratory studies using flumes to quantify the erodability of undisturbed intertidal sediments as a function of changes in (1) the natural benthic community structure and sediment properties, and (2) the abundance of key intertidal species. Sediment erodability, which varies spatially and temporally, is dependent on the interactions between physical processes, sediment properties and biological processes, particularly the balance between two functional groups of biota, the stabilisers and the destabilisers. Bio-stabilisers can influence the hydrodynamics and provide some physical protection to the bed (e.g. mussel beds, macroalgae, salt marsh macrophytes), or can enhance cohesiveness and alter the critical erosion threshold (e.g. microphytobenthos). In contrast, bio-destabilisers (e.g. bioturbators such as Macoma balthica, Hydrobia ulvae) increase surface roughness, reduce the critical erosion threshold and enhance the erosion rate. Field studies in the Humber (England) and Westerschelde (Netherlands) have shown that interannual changes in sediment erodability were a result of a shift from a stabilised sediment dominated by microphytobenthos to a destabilised sediment dominated by M. balthica. Interannual changes in key biota, their influence on sediment erosion, and the consequences for intertidal ecology and morphology, appear to be driven in part by climatic factors (primarily a shift from mild to cold winters). Quantification and understanding of these benthic processes has been used to parameterise mathematical models of intertidal sediment dynamics, and this has provided insight into the relative importance of biological and physical factors in determining sediment erosion/accretion in the intertidal zone.

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