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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 415 - Feature article
N2O production associated with the snail Hinia reticulata partly results from microbial activity in exoskeletal biofilms covering the shell. Photo: I. M. Heisterkamp

Heisterkamp IM, Schramm A, de Beer D, Stief P


Nitrous oxide production associated with coastal marine invertebrates


The atmospheric concentration of the potent greenhouse gas N2O is increasing. In a step toward identification and characterization of its biogenic sources, Heisterkamp and co-workers investigated the N2O emission potential in marine coastal invertebrate species. Many of these emitted N2O at substantial rates, especially the aquacultured shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei. N2O production was mainly due to incomplete denitrification in the gut and microbial activities in exoskeletal biofilms on the external surfaces of animals, and emission was therefore related to body weight, habitat, and the presence of biofilms. The high abundance and potential N2O emission rates of marine invertebrate species suggest that they contribute significantly to overall N2O emissions from coastal marine environments and aquaculture facilities.


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