Linking nutrient enrichment, sediment erodibility and biofilms
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Sediment movement in coastal lagoons affects nutrient flux and primary producer growth. Previous research has shown that sediment erodibility is affected by biofilm concentration and that growth of benthic organisms, which produce biofilm, is affected by nutrient enrichment. However, researchers have not examined possible links between nutrient addition and sediment erodibility. We manipulated nutrient levels in the water column of 16 microcosms filled with homogenized sediment from a shallow coastal lagoon and artificial seawater to determine the effects on biofilm growth, measured through chlorophyll a and colloidal carbohydrate concentrations. Erosion tests using a Gust microcosm were conducted to determine the relationship between sediment erodibility and biofilm concentration. Results show that carbohydrate levels decreased with increasing nutrient enrichment and were unrelated to chlorophyll concentrations and erodibility. The nutrient levels did not predictably affect the chlorophyll levels, with lower chlorophyll concentrations in the control and medium enrichment treatments than the low and high enrichment treatments. Controls on biofilm growth are still unclear and the assumed relationship between carbohydrates and erodibility may be invalid. Understanding how biofilms respond to nutrient enrichment and subsequent effects on sediment erodibility is essential for protecting and restoring shallow coastal systems.