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The Impact Of The Sand Prawn Callianassa Kraussi Stebbing On Sediment Turnover And On Bacteria, Meiofauna, And Benthic Microflora

G. Branch, A. Pringle
Published 1987 · Biology

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Field cages were used to manipulate the density of the thalassinidean Callianassa kraussi Stebbing to test its effects on the turnover of sediment and on the abundance of benthic microflora, bacteria, and meiofauna. By introducing layers of stained sediment into the cages the rate of bioturbation could be quantified, and over a month averaged 59% turnover down to a depth of 30 cm (equivalent to a deposit of 12.14 kg · m −2 · day−1 on the surface). Virtually no bioturbation occurred in cages lacking Callianassa, even although all other infaunal species had been left undisturbed in the cages. Benthic microalgae accumulated on the surface in the absence of Callianassa, but were relatively more abundant at depths of 15 to 25 cm in their presence. Even at this depth they were fully viable, presumably because the turnover of sediment brought them to the surface often enough to maintain them. Bacterial numbers increased between 30 and 100% in the presence of Callianassa, and were concentrated around the linings of their burrows. Meiofaunal numbers declined in proportion to the density of Callianassa, although the reason for this decline is unknown. Taken in conjunction with published work on the detrimental effects Callianassa spp. have on corals, suspension-feeders and seagrasses, these results emphasize the powerful role Callianassa plays in structuring the communities of soft sediments.
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