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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 645:41-54 (2020)  -  DOI:

Metabolism of a subtidal rocky mussel reef in a high-temperate setting: pathways of organic C flow

Karl M. Attard1,2,*, Iván F. Rodil1,3, Peter Berg4, Andrew O. M. Mogg5, Mats Westerbom1, Alf Norkko1,3, Ronnie N. Glud2,6

1Tvärminne Zoological Station, University of Helsinki, J.A. Palménin tie 260, 10900 Hanko, Finland
2Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, 5230 Odense M, Denmark
3Baltic Sea Centre, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
4Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 291 McCormick Road, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4123, USA
5Tritonia Scientific, Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratories, Oban, Argyll PA37 1QA, UK
6Department of Ocean and Environmental Sciences, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, 26 108-8477 Tokyo, Japan
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Mytilid mussels form abundant, species-rich reefs on rocky substrates, but the role of this key habitat in carbon (C) cycling remains poorly understood. We performed a seasonal study on a 5 m deep photic Mytilus trossulus reef in the Central Baltic Sea to investigate pathways and rates of organic C flow. Reef gross primary production (GPP) and respiration (R) were estimated seasonally using underwater O2 eddy covariance on hourly and daily timescales. Photogrammetry and biotic sampling were used to quantify reef rugosity and mussel coverage, and to derive mussel filtration and biodeposition. Mussels were highly abundant, reaching ~50000 ind. m-2, and the reef structure increased the seabed surface area by 44%. GPPhourly was up to 20 mmol O2 m-2 h-1 and GPPdaily was up to 107 mmol O2 m-2 d-1, comparable to a nearby seagrass canopy. Hourly eddy fluxes responded linearly to light intensity and flow velocity, with higher velocities enhancing reef O2 uptake at night. Reef Rdaily exceeded GPPdaily on 12 of 13 measurement days, and Rannual (29 mol O2 m-2 yr-1) was 3-fold larger than GPPannual. The reef sustained a productive community of microbes and fauna whose activities accounted for ~50% of Rannual. Horizontal water advection promoted food supply to the reef and likely facilitated substantial lateral C export of mussel biodeposits. Our analyses suggest that a reduction in mussel reef extent due to ongoing environmental change will have major implications for the transport and transformation of C and nutrients within the coastal Baltic Sea.

KEY WORDS: Primary production · Respiration · Biodiversity · Seafloor ecosystems · Oxygen fluxes · Carbon cycling · Metabolism · Baltic Sea

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Cite this article as: Attard KM, Rodil IF, Berg P, Mogg AOM, Westerbom M, Norkko A, Glud RN (2020) Metabolism of a subtidal rocky mussel reef in a high-temperate setting: pathways of organic C flow. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 645:41-54.

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