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Benthic Biological Processes and EH as a Basis for a Benthic Index

Authors
  • Davis, Wayne R.1
  • Draxler, Andrew F.J.2
  • Paul, John F.1
  • Vitaliano, Joseph J.2
  • 1 U.S. EPA, Atlantic Ecology Division, 27 Tarzwell Dr., Narragansett, RI, 02882 , Narragansett
  • 2 NOAA, NMFS, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Highlands, NJ, 07732 , Highlands
Type
Published Article
Journal
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Jun 01, 1998
Volume
51
Issue
1-2
Pages
259–268
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1023/A:1005947605244
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

It is proposed that the common measures of benthic community condition can be augmented with a vertical EH profile taken through the benthic bioturbation zone. Sediment EH, an electrochemical measure of oxidized and reduced compounds in sediment porewater, measures the integrative consequences of all metabolic and transport processes of the benthic community. Biota, especially microbiota, metabolize carbon using a variety of electron acceptors, including O2, SO4 and some nitrogen and metal compounds. Motile benthic macrofauna ingest and transport particles, ventilate deep burrows and anoxic sediment with overlying seawater while sedentary suspension-feeding fauna deposit suspended organic matter onto the sediment surface. Collectively, these metabolic and behavioral processes advect particles and seawater between bottom water and deep sediment and define the overall structure of porewater chemistry. That structure creates a full spectrum of biogeochemical conditions of solubility, reactivity, and microbial metabolism which remineralizes excess organic carbon and most organic contaminants, defines solubility of trace metals, and pushes the vertical EH profile toward oxidizing conditions. It is proposed that a standard EH probe inserted downward through the bioturbation zone will provide a general measure of this resulting porewater chemistry and thus the impact of feeding, irrigation, and metabolism of the total macro, meio, and microbenthic community. If such a measure can be validated it will permit extended measurement of community function and reduced efforts in measuring community structure.

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