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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-413
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-413
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 30 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 30 Oct 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Biological and biogeochemical methods for estimating bio-irrigation: a case study in the Oosterschelde estuary

Emil De Borger1,2, Justin Tiano2,1, Ulrike Braeckman1, Tom Ysebaert2,3, and Karline Soetaert2,1 Emil De Borger et al.
  • 1Ghent University, Department of Biology, Marine Biology Research Group, Krijgslaan 281/S8, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
  • 2Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research (NIOZ), Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, and Utrecht University, Korringaweg 7, P.O. Box 140, 4401 NT Yerseke, the Netherlands
  • 3Wageningen Marine Research, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands

Abstract. Bio-irrigation, the exchange of solutes between overlying water and sediment by benthic organisms, plays an important role in sediment biogeochemistry. Quantification of bio-irrigation is done either through measurements with tracers, or more recently, using biological traits to derive the community (bio-) irrigation potential (IPc). Both these techniques were applied in a seasonal study of bio-irrigation in species communities of subtidal and intertidal habitats in a temperate estuary. A tracer time series with high-temporal resolution allowed to simultaneously estimate the pumping rate, and the sediment attenuation, a parameter that determines irrigation depth. We show that although the total pumping rate is similar in both intertidal and subtidal areas, there is deeper bio-irrigation in intertidal areas. This is explained by higher densities of bio-irrigators such as Corophium sp., Heteromastus filiformis and Arenicola marina in the intertidal, as opposed to the subtidal. The IPc correlated more strongly with the attenuation coefficient than the pumping rate, which highlights that this index reflects more the bio-irrigation depth rather than the rate.

Emil De Borger et al.
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Short summary
By applying a novel technique to quantify organism induced sediment-water column fluid exchange (bio-irrigation), we show that organisms in subtidal (permanently submerged) areas have similar bio-irrigation rates as those that inhabit intertidal areas (not permanently submerged), but organisms in the latter irrigate deeper burrows in this study. Our results expand on traditional methods to quantify bio-irrigation rates, and broaden the pool of field measurements of bio-irrigation rates.
By applying a novel technique to quantify organism induced sediment-water column fluid exchange...
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