Mussel beds are biological power stations on intertidal flats.

Engel, Friederike G., Alegria, Javier, Andriana, Rosyta, Donadi, Serena, Gusmao, Joao B., van Leeuwe, Maria A., Matthiessen, Birte and Eriksson, Britas Klemens (2017) Mussel beds are biological power stations on intertidal flats. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 191 . pp. 21-27. DOI 10.1016/j.ecss.2017.04.003.

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Supplementary data:

Abstract

Highlights:
• Mussel beds increase benthic microalgae biomass and productivity on intertidal flats.
• Ecosystem engineers facilitate coastal production.
• Biological control is important for the functioning of sedimentary systems.

Abstract:
Intertidal flats are highly productive areas that support large numbers of invertebrates, fish, and birds. Benthic diatoms are essential for the function of tidal flats. They fuel the benthic food web by forming a thin photosynthesizing compartment in the top-layer of the sediment that stretches over the vast sediment flats during low tide. However, the abundance and function of the diatom film is not homogenously distributed. Recently, we have realized the importance of bivalve reefs for structuring intertidal ecosystems; by creating structures on the intertidal flats they provide habitat, reduce hydrodynamic stress and modify the surrounding sediment conditions, which promote the abundance of associated organisms. Accordingly, field studies show that high chlorophyll a concentration in the sediment co-vary with the presence of mussel beds. Here we present conclusive evidence by a manipulative experiment that mussels increase the local biomass of benthic microalgae; and relate this to increasing biomass of microalgae as well as productivity of the biofilm across a nearby mussel bed. Our results show that the ecosystem engineering properties of mussel beds transform them into hot spots for primary production on tidal flats, highlighting the importance of biological control of sedimentary systems.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Ecosystem engineers; Facilitation; Benthic microalgae; Sedimentary systems; Intertidal flat; Coastal production
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-N Experimental Ecology - Food Webs
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.ecss.2017.04.003
ISSN: 0272-7714
Date Deposited: 02 May 2017 07:50
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2019 15:14
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/37746

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