Effects of injury and nutrition on sediment reworking by Clymenella torquata (Annelida: Polychaeta)
Marine infaunas influence sediment chemistry, nutrient cycling, and microbial communities as they burrow, feed, defecate, and irrigate their tubes and burrows. Nonlethal tissue loss to predators or other disturbances is frequently observed in macrofaunal communities, and previous research has reported significant effects of onetime injury on animal activity. In this study, we examined the effects of injury and nutrient enrichment on sediment reworking rates of a common deposit-feeding polychaete, Clymenella torquata. Individual worms in cores were monitored in a recirculating seawater system, and their defecation and sediment mixing monitored under several experimental conditions. Worms held in control (unenriched) sediment or in homogeneously diatom-enriched sediment were injured on days 0 and 7 in a 21 d experiment. Worms held in control sediment or sediment with high surface diatom enrichment were observed in a 7 d experiment following repeated injury. Posterior segments were ablated for the injury treatments, and injury and nutrient supply treatments were crossed in all experiments. Repeated injury significantly decreased surface activities and defecation, and injured worms transported significantly less surface sediment to depth than intact worms. Microalgal enrichment at the sediment surface correlated with an increase in bioturbation; intact worms in surfaceenriched sediments were more active and more likely to hoe surface sediments to depth as evidenced by vertical profiles. These findings help explain how infaunal activities are modified by injury and food availability and can be used to improve models of bioturbation to further elucidate complex benthic community dynamics.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September 1, 2014
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