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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 425:125-139 (2011)  -  DOI:

Contrasting effects of the polychaetes Marenzelleria viridis and Nereis diversicolor on benthic metabolism and solute transport in sandy coastal sediment

Erik Kristensen1,*, Tanja Hansen1, Matthieu Delefosse1, Gary T. Banta2, Cintia O. Quintana1

1Institute of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark
2Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, Roskilde University, Universitetsvej 1, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark

ABSTRACT: The contrasting effects of the invasive Marenzelleria viridis and the native Nereis diversicolor on benthic metabolism, partitioning of reaction pathways and distribution of inorganic porewater (C and N) solutes in homogenized sandy sediment were investigated experimentally over a period of 1 mo. The 2 species were studied separately and in combination to observe possible effects and interactions. Benthic O2 uptake and total CO2 (TCO2) release were affected similarly by M. viridis, N. diversicolor and the two in combination, with roughly a doubling after 1 to 2 wk compared to defaunated sediment. Sulfate reduction after 1 mo, on the other hand, was more than twice as high in sediment inhabited by M. viridis alone than in any other treatment, even when combined with N. diversicolor. Denitrification estimated from benthic TCO2 release, porewater reaction stoichiometry and nutrient fluxes was largely unaffected by the presence of fauna. Accordingly, the partitioning of reaction pathways after 1 mo revealed that M. viridis stimulated sulfate reduction at the expense of aerobic respiration. Most of the oxygen uptake in M. viridis sediment was apparently due to enhanced oxidation resulting from an upward drifting front of sulfide as indicated by low redox and the appearance of Beggiatoa sp. near the surface. Porewater solute profiles showed that M. viridis was capable of stronger and deeper irrigation than N. diversicolor despite ~10 times higher burrow ventilation by the latter species. This effect was caused by percolation of return water in the deep (>20 cm) I- or J-shaped burrows of M. viridis compared to the flushing of the more shallow (6 to 8 cm) U- shaped burrows of N. diversicolor. A replacement of the native N. diversicolor with the invasive M. viridis as the dominant burrow-dwelling polychaete in shallow coastal sediments will probably affect the biogeochemical functioning and ecological stability of the ecosystem. Among other things, organisms tolerant to sulfide are likely to be favored at the expense of more sensitive species.

KEY WORDS: Invasive species · Porewater irrigation · C and N solutes · Reaction pathways · Sulfate reduction

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Cite this article as: Kristensen E, Hansen T, Delefosse M, Banta GT, Quintana CO (2011) Contrasting effects of the polychaetes Marenzelleria viridis and Nereis diversicolor on benthic metabolism and solute transport in sandy coastal sediment. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 425:125-139.

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