A cost-effective method to quantify biological surface sediment reworking
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We propose a simple and inexpensive method to determine the rate and pattern of surface sediment reworking by benthic organisms. Unlike many existing methods commonly used in bioturbation studies, which usually require sediment sampling, our approach is fully non-destructive and is well suited for investigating non-cohesive fine sediments in streams and rivers. Optical tracer (e.g. luminophores or coloured sand) disappearance or appearance is assessed through time based on optical quantification of surfaces occupied by tracers. Data are used to calculate surface sediment reworking (SSR) coefficients depicting bioturbation intensities. Using this method, we evaluated reworking activity of stream organisms (three benthic invertebrates and a fish) in laboratory microcosms mimicking pool habitats or directly in the field within arenas set in depositional zones. Our method was sensitive enough to measure SSR as low as 0.2 cm2 day−1, such as triggered by intermediate density (774 m−2) of Gammarus fossarum (Amphipoda) in microcosms. In contrast, complex invertebrate community in the field and a fish (Barbatula barabatula) in laboratory microcosms were found to yield to excessively high SSR (>60 cm2 day−1). Lastly, we suggest that images acquired during experiments can be used for qualitative evaluation of species-specific effects on sediment distribution.
KeywordsBioturbation Sediment reworking Optical tracers Benthic organism Invertebrates Fishes
Authors are grateful for the help provided by Séverine Jean during fish field experiment. Thanks are also due to the associate editor and anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments which improved the manuscript. This work was supported by the Conseil Régional Midi-Pyrénées in the frame of the Action Interrégionale Aquitaine & Midi-Pyrénées “GAGILAU”, by the French ANR programme “ADAPT’EAU” (project ANR-11-CEPL-008), and by the “Biodiversity and Forest Management” programme (project SYLECOL) funded by the French Ministry of Environment. This paper is the Nereis Park contribution number #34.
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