Degradation of mussel (Mytilus edulis) fecal pellets released from hanging long-lines upon sinking and after settling at the sediment

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Abstract:

Long-line mussel farming is well established in many coastal areas around the world, and the concurrent carbon enrichment below farms potentially can have local environmental impacts. The degradation of released mussel (Mytilus edulis) pellets was investigated by a number of complementary incubation approaches. After 140h in suspension, most of the labile fraction of the pellet material had been degraded. However, because of the shallow water depth at our study site (8m), only a minute fraction of carbon was released to the water column during sinking, of which ~50% was rapidly turned over. Pellets settling at the sediment in realistic concentrations immediately stimulated the benthic O2 uptake. The elevated O2 uptake gradually declined and reached the background level after 96h, at which time ~25% of the added material had been degraded. The main fraction of pellets (75%) was more refractory and remained in the sediment where it was either retained or degraded on much longer time scales. The quantitative response of benthic pellet enrichment observed in the laboratory was confirmed by in situ trap measurements and incubations of sediment collected below and away from active farms.

L’élevage des moules sur filières est bien établi dans plusieurs régions côtières dans le monde et l’enrichissement en carbone sous les élevages peut potentiellement générer des impacts environnementaux locaux. Nous avons étudié la dégradation des boulettes fécales libérées par les moules (Mytilus edulis) par plusieurs méthodologies complémentaires d’incubation. Après 140h en suspension, la plus grande partie de la portion labile du matériel des boulettes est dégradée. Cependant, à cause de la faible profondeur de l’eau à notre site d’étude (8m), seulement une fraction minuscule du carbone est libérée dans la colonne d’eau durant la sédimentation, dont ~50 % est rapidement recyclé. Les boulettes qui se sont déposées sur le sédiment en concentrations réalistes ont immédiatement stimulé la consommation benthique de O2. La consommation accrue de O2 a graduellement décliné et atteint le niveau de base après 96h; à ce moment, ~25 % du matériel ajouté était dégradé. La fraction principale (75 %) des boulettes est plus réfractaire et demeure dans le sédiment où elle est retenue ou se dégrade sur des échelles temporelles beaucoup plus longues. La réponse quantitative à l’enrichissement benthique en boulettes observée en laboratoire a pu être confirmée en nature par des mesures dans des collecteurs in situ et par l’incubation de sédiments prélevés sous les élevages actifs et loin de ces élevages.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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