Effects of Graveling on the Primary Productivity, Respiration and Nutrient Flux of Two Estuarine Tidal Flats


This study was conducted in Puget Sound, USA, and investigated the effect of graveling intertidal mud and sandflats to enhance clam production on the benthic assemblage structure, primary productivity, respiration, and nutrient flux. The study was conducted between spring and autumn (1991), the period of greatest productivity and plant standing stock in Puget Sound. Graveled and control plots were established in the low intertidal zone on a mud flat in a protected embayment (Chapman Cove) and an exposed sandflat (Semiahmoo Bay). Gravel altered benthic assemblage structure, respiration, and nutrient flux rates. Graveled plots contained more surface coverage of sessile animals and seaweeds. Net productivity (NP), which differed relatively little between graveled and control plots, was negative for all but one sampling at the protected embayment plots. In contrast, NP was always positive at the exposed sandflat plots. The respiration rate was 13 to 57% greater in the graveled plot at Chapman Cove than in the adjacent control plot, and 7 to 54% greater in the gravel plot than the control plots at Semiahmoo Bay. Heterotrophy was greater in the graveled plots, as reflected by a lower net productivity to respiration ratio. Effects of graveling on water quality parameters such as dissolved oxygen and inorganic nitrogen concentrations were not detected. Graveling sandy and mud beaches increases secondary productivity, which is associated with increased rates of remineralization and release of dissolved nutrients to the water column.


Biological Sciences

Keywords and Phrases

Clam; Gravel; Nutrient Flux; Primary Productivity; Respiration; Tidal Flat; USA, Washington, Puget Sound, Chapman Cove; USA, Washington, Puget Sound, Semiahmoo Bay

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Article - Journal

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© 1994 Springer Verlag, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 1994