Environmental controls on bioturbation processes in marine benthic habits

Stolze, Lina Marie (2016) Environmental controls on bioturbation processes in marine benthic habits. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Through bioturbation, the macrofauna mediate chemical, physical and biological processes in marine benthic ecosystems. Because of the importance of bioturbation as ecosystem mediator, various studies have been conducted on bioturbation intensity and depth, and the relation of bioturbation processes to environmental condition and ecosystem state. This thesis builds on those previous studies, using a standard field and analytical protocol and by expanding the geographical scale to three climatic regions along Canada’s East Coast and Arctic margins, the Arctic Archipelago, the coastal Subarctic (Labrador Fjords), and the temperate continental climate zone (Gulf of Maine and adjacent Scotian shelf/slope). This Ph.D. study provides a comprehensive assessment of environmental influences on bioturbation along gradients in latitude and ocean depth. Bioturbation intensity, mixing depth, and bioturbation structures were studied in relation to the quantity and quality of potential food sources (organic matter) and substrate characteristics to gain an understanding of the environmental controls on bioturbation in these regions. The three main research chapters of this thesis are divided based on the contrasting climatic and geographical regions studied. The analytical approach included seabed sampling with a boxcorer, describing the sedimentary fabric and bioturbation structures by X-radiography, estimating bioturbation intensity and depth applying a biodiffusion model to particle tracer profiles of ²¹⁰Pbₓs, ²²⁸Thₓs, ²³⁴Thₓs, and chlorophyll-a, and analyzing benthic organic matter and substrate characteristics. Strong regional and cross-climatic relations of bioturbation processes with combinations of environmental factors were observed. In particular, bioturbation depth and the vertical extent of bioturbation structures responded to the environmental patterns observed and, therefore, represented potentially applicable predictors of environmental conditions and ecosystem state. The results of this Ph.D. study may be further extended to other geographical regions with similar environmental characteristics to predict the effects of benthic habitat alterations through environmental stresses on a global scale. Integrated with biological data produced by fellow CHONe scientists the presented data may provide valuable information about functional roles of macrofaunal species and community traits in marine benthic ecosystems along Canada’s extensive East Coast and Arctic margins.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/11911
Item ID: 11911
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Keywords: particle tracer, X-radiography, Arctic Archipelago, fjords, Gulf of Maine, deep-sea, environmental factors
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Earth Sciences
Date: May 2016
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Bioturbation--Environmental aspects; Benthic animals--Ecology; Benthic animals--Habitat

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