Experimental evidence for the role of Brissopsis lyrifera (Forbes, 1841) as a critical species in the maintenance of benthic diversity and the modification of sediment chemistry

Widdicombe, S; Austen, MC. 1998 Experimental evidence for the role of Brissopsis lyrifera (Forbes, 1841) as a critical species in the maintenance of benthic diversity and the modification of sediment chemistry. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 228 (2). 241-255. 10.1016/S0022-0981(98)00032-X

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Abstract/Summary

The effects on infaunal diversity and sediment chemistry of bioturbation/feeding activity by different densities of the heart urchin Brissopsis lyrifera are quantified in an experiment conducted in the benthic mesocosm facility of the Norwegian Institute for Water Research at Solbergstrand, Norway. Using sediment from Bjørnhordenbukta, a small, sheltered bay in Oslofjørd, areas were subjected to 20 weeks of continuous disturbance from urchins at densities equivalent to 28 and 71 individuals m−2, whilst other areas remained undisturbed. Low density treatments, reflecting the natural field densities observed during collection of the sediment, produced higher infaunal β diversity than the heavily disturbed or control treatments and this could be attributed to a decrease in competitive exclusion. This is consistent with the predictions of the intermediate disturbance hypothesis (Connell, 1978). Bioturbation also caused a significant change in the chemistry of the surface sediment increasing oxygenation, decreasing the rates of denitrification and increasing the precipitation of phosphate. It is concluded that the disturbance activity of Brissopsis lyrifera may play a vital role in the maintenance of regional diversity and in the mediation of geochemical processes.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Subjects: Biology
Ecology and Environment
Marine Sciences
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
Depositing User: Prof Stephen Widdicombe
Date made live: 05 Feb 2019 12:59
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2019 12:59
URI: http://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/7724

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