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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 266:185-193 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps266185

Effects of temperature on in vitro sediment reworking processes by a gallery biodiffusor, the polychaete Neanthes virens

Daniel Ouellette1, Gaston Desrosiers1,*, Jean-Pierre Gagne1, Franck Gilbert2, Jean-Christophe Poggiale2, Pierre U. Blier3, Georges Stora2

1Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski (ISMER), Université du Québec à Rimouski, 310 allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, Québec G5L 3A1, Canada
2Laboratoire d¹Océanographie et de Biogéochimie, Université de la Méditerranée, COM, Campus de Luminy, case 901, Marseille 13288, Cedex 9, France
3Département de biologie, chimie, sciences de la santé, Université du Québec à Rimouski, 300 allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, Québec G5L 3A1, Canada
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Temperature-induced variations in bioturbation could affect sediment mixing processes in the marine benthic environment. In this study, sediment reworking by Neanthes virens (Sars), a widely distributed polychaete in muddy sand communities of northern temperate latitudes, was studied under different temperature conditions representing winter (1°C), spring and fall (6°C), summer (13°C), and tide pool (18°C) temperatures in the lower St. Lawrence Estuary, Québec, Canada. Sediment reworking was quantified using inert fluorescent particles (luminophores) deposited at the sediment surface. Based on the 1-D luminophore distributions obtained after 5 and 30 d, the use of the specific Œgallery-biodiffusor¹ model allowed us to quantify both biodiffusion (Db) and biotransport (Vb) due to the organisms. Our results showed temperature effects on sediment transport. The lowest biotransport and biodiffusion coefficients were measured at 1 and 6°C and did not change with time. The highest biodiffusion occurred at 13°C for both sampling periods. At 18°C, biodiffusion was intermediate while biotransport was maximal. Differences between the 13°C biodiffusive transport and the other temperatures increased with time. Low transport values at 1 and 6°C suggest that a quiescent stage exists for this species at these temperatures, with sediment mixing occurring mostly during burrow construction. On the other hand, sediment mixing resulted from both the burrow construction and maintenance phases at higher temperatures (13 and 18°C).

KEY WORDS: Bioturbation · Temperature · Neanthes virens · Inert tracers · Functional groups

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