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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 538:53-65 (2015)  -  DOI:

An experimental approach for understanding the process of wood fragmentation by marine wood borers in shallow temperate waters

Atsushi Nishimoto1,4,*, Takuma Haga2, Akira Asakura1, Yoshihisa Shirayama3

1Seto Marine Biological Laboratory, Kyoto University, 459 Shirahama, Nishimuro, Wakayama 649-2211, Japan
2Department of Geology and Paleontology, National Museum of Nature and Science, 4-1-1 Amakubo, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0005, Japan
3Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, 2-15 Natsushima, Yokosuka, Kanagawa 237-0061, Japan
4Present address: National Research Institute of Fisheries Science, Fisheries Research Agency, 2-12-4 Fukuura, Kanazawa, Yokohama, Kanagawa, 236-8648 Japan
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Wood-boring activities by various invertebrates control the availability of food and space in marine sunken wood communities. We investigated the individual stages of wood fragmentation through a 4 yr colonization experiment. We placed Japanese cedar logs on the sea bed ~2 m below the surface of Tanabe Bay, Japan. A cluster analysis showed 6 successive stages (plus 1 alternative second stage) in the development of the wood borer’s assemblage. Individuals of the bivalve families Teredinidae and Pholadidae and the isopod family Limnoriidae settled on the logs within 2 mo (Stage 1). After rapidly fragmenting the inside of the logs (Stage 2), most of the teredinids died during the first year, leaving numerous empty tunnels reinforced by calcium carbonate linings (Stage 3). Because of this reinforcement, as well as due to the fact that the tunnels never crossed each other, the resulting honeycombed structure remained stable for about 3 yr, allowing for the ongoing development of the sunken wood community. Large-scale fragmentation finally continued with the limnoriids intensively disintegrating the logs from the surface (Stage 4). As the fragmentation process drew to a close, the pholadids disappeared from the assemblage before the limnoriids (Stage 5), the latter persisting until the log had been turned entirely into small particles (Stage 6). This rapid and dynamic fragmentation process is not universal in the sea, but serves as a useful framework for comparing the wood-boring activities across various conditions. Those comparisons will help to evaluate the role of coarse woody debris in marine ecosystems.

KEY WORDS: Coarse woody debris · Sunken wood · Wood fall · Limnoriidae · Pholadidae · Teredinidae · Zoothamnium niveum · Allochthonous inputs

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Cite this article as: Nishimoto A, Haga T, Asakura A, Shirayama Y (2015) An experimental approach for understanding the process of wood fragmentation by marine wood borers in shallow temperate waters. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 538:53-65.

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