The interplay of temperature and algal enrichment intensifies bioturbation of the intertidal amphipod Corophium volutator


Bioturbation is a central transport process for ecosystem functioning, especially in large soft sediment habitats like the Wadden Sea. The amphipod C. volutator is a dominant bioturbator in the Wadden Sea, due to its great abundance and almost continuous particle movement. Expedition or loss of its bioturbation activity could thus hold ramifications for ecosystem functioning within sediments, like carbon sequestration and nutrient recycling. Here we test the effect that temperature and organic enrichment have on the bioturbation of C. volutator; two prevalent abiotic factors in the Corophiid's habitat that have fluctuated over recent decades, and are expected to change in the future. In-situ experiments were conducted under 8 and 15 °C, with varying levels (0 g, 0.1 g, and 0.2 g) of powdered Ulva compressa enriching cores containing C. volutator. We found a significant interaction effect of temperature and organic enrichment on the bioturbation rate of the amphipod, with bioturbation only increasing with added organic enrichment at 15 °C. Further, a threshold within our experiments was also reached under 15 °C, where the amphipod ceased to expedite bioturbation under higher organic enrichment. This upper limit on this dominant bioturbation imposed with organic enrichment emphasizes the sensitivity of C. volutator. Our findings reveal bioturbation can be limited by temperature in colder months, and opposingly, limited by organic enrichment under warmer conditions. In future Wadden Sea scenarios where temperature is predicted to be warmer and winters milder, enhanced bioturbation activity by C. volutator could prove crucial in continued ecosystem functions.
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