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Evidence of infaunal effects on porewater advection and biogeochemistry in permeable sediments: A proposed infaunal functional group framework

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Bioturbating infauna significantly modify reaction and transport processes in permeable sediments, though most studies to date are limited in the scope of species examined. We conducted a comparative field study measuring density-dependent effects of six common bioturbating species on porewater advection and biogeochemistry, across three intertidal permeable sediment habitats. The species in this study are; head-down like deposit feeders (Abarenicola pacifica and Balanoglossus aurantiacus), surface deposit feeders (Diopatra cuprea and Onuphis jenneri) and gallery diffusers (Upogebia pugettensis and Neotrypaea californiensis). Tracer loss from gel diffusers was used to assess relative differences in porewater advection among sites, and porewater peepers were used to measure solute concentrations of carbon, nitrogen, phosphate, and silicate in experimental plots. Characteristic surface features of different infauna were counted and used as a proxy for infaunal density. Density of surface features was then used in regression analyses as an explanatory variable affecting porewater transport and chemistry. Significant infaunal density effects on porewater transport or biogeochemistry were found in all but one species, D. cuprea. The species-specific attributes and mechanisms by which these infauna affect permeable sediment processes are explored. A process based functional group framework is presented for permeable sediments. Bulk granulometric properties also were assessed. There were little to no within-site effects of porosity, hydraulic conductivity, or organic matter on porewater transport and biogeochemistry. However, significant across-site differences in granulometry and site properties were found and these are addressed in relation to infaunal effects on porewater transport and chemistry.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2009

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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