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Free Content Effects of injury and nutrition on sediment reworking by Clymenella torquata (Annelida: Polychaeta)

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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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  • 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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