Bioturbation is one of the major processes influencing ecosystem functioning. Population parameters such as species density, burrow density and species-specific life modes, determine the impact of bioturbation on the ecosystem. A laboratory experiment was developed, using microcosms mimicking a marine intertidal sediment–water interface which allowed for quantification of different population parameters. The vertical redistribution, bioturbation rate and maximum penetration depth of two sizes (41 and 129 μm) of luminophores were measured in five treatments (control, low density of burrows with and without Corophium (1989 ind./m2), and high density of burrows with and without Corophium (14,921 ind./m2)) after 1, 7 and 14 days. Results indicate that the behavioural activities of Corophium are of the utmost importance in sediment reworking, since they contributed to a five-fold increase in bioturbation rate compared to the passive transport induced by the static structure of the burrows. Furthermore, density is an important parameter because only high densities play a prominent role in particle transport and hence in organic matter processing, while the role of low Corophium densities is limited in sediment reworking. No evidence for differentiation in sediment size fractions was observed. Finally, bioturbation rates in this study were low compared to other studies, and these results suggest an influence of the tidal rhythmicity in the behavioural activity of Corophium on the bioturbation rate.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEstuarine Coastal and Shelf Science
Journal publication date2011

ID: 292622