Browsing by Subject "BIOTURBATION"

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  • Coppock, Rachel L.; Lindeque, Penelope K.; Cole, Matthew; Galloway, Tamara S.; Nakki, Pinja; Birgani, Hannah; Richards, Saskiya; Queiros, Ana M. (2021)
    Microplastics are ubiquitous in the marine environment, however, the mechanisms governing their uptake by, and burial within, seabed habitats are poorly understood. In this study, microplastic burial and its impact on fauna-mediated sedimentary processes was quantified at three coastal sites, and the potential contribution of burrowing faunal communities to this process assessed via functional trait diversity analysis of field data. In addition, laboratory exposures were used to assess whether sediment-processing undertaken by the brittlestar Amphiura filiformis, a key species in the sampled area, could explain the burial of microplastic fibres. Field observations confirmed broad-scale burial of microplastics across the coastal seabed, consistent across sites and seasons, with microplastic sequestration linked to benthic-pelagic exchange pathways, driven by burrowing fauna. Brittlestars were observed to bury and line their burrow walls with microfibres during experiments, and their burial activity was also modified following exposure to nylon fibres, relative to controls. Collectively, these results indicate that biodiverse and functionally important seabed habitats act as microplastic sinks, with burrowing fauna contributing to this process via well-known benthic-pelagic pathways, the rates of which are modified by plastic exposure.
  • Villnäs, Anna; Janas, Urzsula; Josefson, Alf B.; Kendzierska, Halina; Nygård, Henrik; Norkko, Joanna; Norkko, Alf (2019)
    Benthic macrofaunal communities have a profound impact on organic matter turnover and nutrient cycling in marine sediments. Their activities are of particular importance in the coastal filter, where nutrients and organic matter from land are transformed and/or retained before reaching the open sea. The benthic fauna modify the coastal filter directly (through consumption, respiration, excretion and biomass production) and indirectly (through bioturbation). It is hard to experimentally quantify faunal contribution to the coastal filter over large spatial and temporal scales that encompass significant environmental and biological heterogeneity. However, estimates can be obtained with biological trait analyses. By using benthic biological traits, we explored how the potential contribution of macrofaunal communities to the coastal filter differ between inner and outer sites in an extensive archipelago area and examine the generality of the observed pattern across contrasting coastal areas of the entire Baltic Sea. Estimates of benthic bioturbation, longevity and size (i.e. ‘stability’) and total energy and nutrient contents differed between coastal areas and inner versus outer sites. Benthic traits indicative of an enhanced nutrient turnover but a decreased capacity for temporal nutrient retention dominated inner sites, while outer sites were often dominated by larger individuals, exhibiting traits that are likely to enhance nutrient uptake and retention. The overarching similarities in benthic trait expression between more eutrophied inner vs. less affected outer coastal sites across the Baltic Sea suggest that benthic communities might contribute in a similar manner to nutrient recycling and retention in the coastal filter over large geographical scales.
  • Maximov, Alexey; Bonsdorff, Erik; Eremina, Tatjana; Kauppi, Laura; Norkko, Alf; Norkko, Joanna (2015)
    Marenzelleria spp. are among the most successful non-native benthic species in the Baltic Sea. These burrowing polychaetes dig deeper than most native Baltic species, performing previously lacking ecosystem functions. We examine evidence from experiments, field sampling and modelling that the introduction of Marenzelleria spp. affects nutrient cycling and biogeochemical processes at the sediment water interface. Over longer time scales, bioirrigation by Marenzelleria spp. has the potential to increase phosphorus retention in bottom deposits because of deeper oxygen penetration into sediments and formation of a deeper oxidized layer. In contrast, nitrogen fluxes from the sediment increase. As a consequence of a decline of the phosphate concentration and/or rising nitrogen/phosphorus ratio, some Northern Baltic ecosystems may experience improvement of the environment because of mitigation of eutrophication and harmful cyanobacteria blooms. Although it is difficult to unambiguously estimate the ecosystem-level consequences of invasion, in many cases it could be considered as positive due to increased structural and functional diversity. The long-term interactions with the native fauna still remain unknown, however, and in this paper we highlight the major knowledge gaps. (C) 2015 Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences., Production and hosting by Elsevier Sp. z o.o.
  • Kröger, Björn; Penny, Amelia (2020)
    During the late Cambrian–Early Ordovician interval the predominant non-microbial reef builders were sponges or sponge-like metazoans. The lithological and faunal composition of Cambro-Ordovician sponge-dominated reefs have previously been analyzed and reviewed. Here we take the relationship between reef aggregation pattern at reef to seascape scale into account, and look for changes during the Early–Middle Ordovician interval, in which metazoans became dominant reef builders. In a comparison of sponge-rich reefs from eight sites of the Laurentia paleocontinent three different seascape level reef growth patterns can be distinguished: (1) mosaic mode of reef growth, where reefs form a complex spatial mosaic dependent on hard substrate; (2) episodic mode, where patch reefs grew exclusively in distinct unconformity bounded horizons within non-reefal lithological units that have a much larger thickness; and (3) belt-and-bank mode, where reefs and reef complexes grew vertically and laterally as dispersed patches largely independent from truncation surfaces. The distinct modes of growth likely represent specific reef forming paleocommunities, because they differ in content and abundance of skeletal metazoan framebuilders, bioturbation intensity of non-skeletal reef sediment matrix, and in association of reef growth with underlying hard substrate. We suggest, based on a review of Laurentian reef occurrences, that the mosaic mode dominated in Early Ordovician strata and that the dominance shifted toward the belt and bank mode from Middle Ordovician strata onward.
  • Gammal, Johanna; Järnström, Marie; Bernard, Guillaume; Norkko, Joanna; Norkko, Alf (2019)
    The ongoing loss of biodiversity and global environmental changes severely affect the structure of coastal ecosystems. Consequences, in terms of ecosystem functioning, are, however, difficult to predict because the context dependency of the biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships within these heterogeneous seascapes is poorly understood. To assess the effects of biological and environmental factors in mediating ecosystem functioning (nutrient cycling) in different natural habitats, intact sediment cores were collected at 18 sites on a grain size gradient from coarse sand to silt, with varying organic matter content and vegetation. To assess ecosystem functioning, solute fluxes (O-2, NH4+, PO43-, Si) across the sediment-water interface were measured. The macrofaunal communities changed along the grain size gradient with higher abundance, biomass and number of species in coarser sediments and in habitats with more vegetation. Across the whole gradient, the macrofauna cumulatively accounted for 25% of the variability in the multivariate solute fluxes, whereas environmental variables cumulatively accounted for 20%. Only the biomass and abundance of a few of the most dominant macrofauna species, not the number of species, appeared to contribute significantly to the nutrient recycling processes. Closer analyses of different sediment types (grouped into coarse, medium and fine sediment) showed that the macrofauna was an important predictor in all sediment types, but had the largest impact in fine and medium sediments. The results imply that even if the ecosystem functioning is similar in different sediment types, the underpinning mechanisms are different, which makes it challenging to generalize patterns of functioning across the heterogeneous shallow coastal zones.
  • Niemisto, Juha; Lund-Hansen, Lars Chresten (2019)
    Climate change is leading to harsher resuspension events in shallow coastal environments influencing benthic nutrient fluxes. However, we lack information on the quantitative connection between these fluxes and the physical forces. Two identical experiments that were carried out both in May and August provided novel knowledge on the instantaneous effects of resuspension with known intensity on the benthic dissolved inorganic (phosphate: DIP, ammonium: NH4+, nitrite+nitrate: NOx, silicate, DSi) and organic nutrient (phosphorus: DOP, nitrogen: DON, carbon: DOC) fluxes in the shallow soft bottoms of the archipelago of Gulf of Finland (GoF), Baltic Sea. Resuspension treatments, as 2 times the critical shear stress, induced effluxes of one to two orders of magnitude higher than the diffusive fluxes from the studied oxic bottoms. The presence of oxygen resulted in newly formed iron oxyhydroxides and the subsequent precipitation/adsorption of the redox-dependent nutrients (DIP, DSi, organic nutrients) affecting their fluxes. Resuspension-induced NH4+ and NOx fluxes were associated with the organic content of sediments showing the highest values at the organic rich sites. NH4+ showed the strongest responses to resuspension treatments in August, but NOx at the time of high oxygen concentrations in near-bottom water in May. Foreseen increases in the frequency and intensity of resuspension events due to climate change will most likely enhance the internal nutrient loading of the studied coastal areas. The fluxes presented here, connected to known current velocities, can be utilized in modeling work and to assess and predict the internal nutrient loading following climate change.
  • Villnäs, Anna; Norkko, Alf; Lehtonen, Kari K. (2019)
    The frequency of seasonal and short-term hypoxia is increasing in coastal seas. How such repeated disturbances affect key species that have important roles for ecosystem processes and functions remains, however, unknown. By performing a field experiment we explored if the bivalve Macoma balthica can cope with short-term, recurring hypoxic stress, and investigated how hypoxia affects the condition of surviving bivalves. By combining data on different levels of biological organization, i.e., on physiology (biomarker response), behaviour and demography, we identified stress responses before the population declined. One pulse of hypoxic disturbance (3 days) resulted in behavioural alterations, as adult M. balthica extended their siphons, emerged towards the sediment surface and expressed decreased reburial rates. However, the demographic structure of the population remained unaltered. Several pulses of recurring hypoxic stress resulted in physiological response with changes in glutathione reductase and acetylcholinesterase enzyme activities. The recurring hypoxic disturbance was observed to affect juvenile bivalves before adults, while pro-longed hypoxia reduced the entire bivalve population. Our results clearly show that hypoxic stress changes the behaviour and physiology of M. balthica before demographic changes occur, which is likely to have severe implications for the contribution of this key species to ecosystem functioning. That a combination of measures at different levels of organization can detect disturbances at an early stage suggests that such an approach would be useful for assessing the effects of disturbances on marine ecosystems that are increasingly affected by anthropogenic change.
  • Villnäs, Anna Pia Maria; Hewitt, Judi; Snickars, Martin; Westerbom, Mats; Norkko, Alf Mattias (2018)
    Understanding large-scale spatial variation in ecosystem properties and associated functionality is key for successful conservation of ecosystems. This study provides a template for how to estimate differences in ecosystem functionality over large spatial scales by using groupings of biological traits. We focus on trait groupings that describe three important benthic ecosystem properties, namely bioturbation, community stability, and juvenile dispersal. Recognizing that groups of traits interact and are constrained within an organism, we statistically define important functional trait subgroups that describe each ecosystem property. The sub-groups are scored according to their weighted ecological impact to gain an overall estimation of the cumulative expression of each ecosystem property at individual sites. Furthermore, by assigning each property a value relative to its observed maximum, and by summing up the individual property values, we offer an estimate of benthic ecosystem multifunctionality. Based on a spatially extensive benthic data set, we were able to identify coastal areas with high and low potential for the considered benthic ecosystem properties and the measure of ecosystem multifunctionality. Importantly, we show that a large part of the spatial variation in functional trait sub-groups and in benthic ecosystem multifunctionality was explained by environmental change. Our results indicate that through this simplification it is possible to estimate the functionality of the seafloor. Such information is vital in marine spatial planning efforts striving to balance the utilization with the preservation of natural resources.