Sediment Deposition Effects on Estuarine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning - a Laboratory Experiment

Estuaries along with coastal areas have been reported as highly productive areas. Macrofauna plays an important role in sediments as they change its chemistry and influence fluxes of energy and matter, thus affecting the ecosystem functioning and diversity. Two important processes that occur in the sediment are bioturbation and bio-irrigation. Studying these processes is of high importance to understand biogeochemical cycling. Shallow coastal benthic systems are facing an increase of anthropogenic stressors and disturbances with adverse consequences for these habitats. The transfer of sediment from land to sea is increasing due to human activity. With increasing sedimentation, biogeochemical linkages are weakened as density of key species is likely to decrease. This thesis aims to understand the interrelationships and responses of both macrobenthic biodiversity and ecosystem functioning to sediment deposition in a polyhaline mudflat in the Westerschelde estuary (SW the Netherlands) for which increasing rates of sediment input during the last decade have been documented. In general community attributes decreased with increasing sediment deposition. Sediment community oxygen consumption (SCOC) decreased with increasing sedimentation. Bioturbation and bioirrigation were lower in the treatment with highest sediment deposition layer.

Promotor(s) & Supervisor: Carl Van Colen

ISCED Categories

The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0511 - Biology", "0521 - Ecology