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Free Content Simulated fiddler-crab sediment mixing

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Using a lattice-automaton model, we simulate the effects of fiddler crabs on the distribution of excess 210Pb in marsh sediments. Three previously-identified modes of bioturbation are investigated: (1) removal-and-fill, where material is excavated to the sediment-water interface and burrows, when abandoned, are subsequently filled by surface material, (2) removal-and-collapse, where the infilling occurs by collapse of the burrow walls, and (3) partial-compaction-and-collapse, where part of the excavated sediment is packed into the burrow wall and abandoned burrows subsequently collapse. These various mixing modes lead to somewhat different laterally-integrated 210Pbex profiles, which are also influenced by burrowing frequency, burrow dimensions, fraction of surface material replaced by new sediment (regeneration), and the fraction of material compacted during burial.

Using parameters from a previous study in a South Carolina marsh, we find that data from low-marsh sites are best predicted by the partial-compaction-and-collapse process; this is consistent with the observation that burrow casts indicate far more material is excavated than is deposited as pellets at the sediment-water interface. The profile from the high-marsh site is best simulated by removal-and-fill mixing, with 50% regeneration of material at the sediment-water interface; this is consistent with less frequent flooding at this site.

We have also calculated the exchange function for each of these mixing modes and show that they are highly asymmetric, indicating that the mixing is not diffusive. Only in the case of partialcompaction-and-collapse does the exchange function approach a diffusive form when the excavation rate decreases, i.e., the probability of compaction increases.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, 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. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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