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Strength May Lie in Numbers: Intertidal Foraminifera Non-Negligible Contribution to Surface Sediment Reworking

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Document pages: 10 pages

Abstract: The contribution of benthic foraminifera to sedimentbioturbation has widely been overlooked despite their huge abundance inintertidal soft sediments. In this preliminary study, we specifically chose tofocus on two key species of benthic foraminifera in temperate intertidalmudflats, Quinqueloculina seminula and Ammonia tepida, andfirst experimentally investigated their individual movements at the sedimentsurface. We subsequently derived from these observations the individual-levelsurface sediment reworking rates, and used the actual abundance of thesespecies to extrapolate these rates at the population level. Individual surfacesediment reworking rates SSRRi ranged between 0.13 and 0.32 cm2·ind-1·day-1 for Q. seminula, and between 0.12 and 0.28 cm2·ind-1·day-1 for A. tepida. Population-level surface sediment reworking rates weresubsequently estimated as ranging between 11,484 and 28,710 cm2·m-2·day-1 for Q. seminula and 27,876 and 65,044 cm2·m-2·day-1 for A. tepida. Noticeably, these reworking rates are comparable to, andeventually even higher than, the rates reported in the literature forpopulations of intertidal macro-invertebrates, such as the annelid polychaete Melinnapalmata and the bivalve Abra ovata. Taken together theseresults suggest that despite their minute size intertidal benthic foraminiferaare, thanks to their abundance, non-negligible contributors to the reworking ofsurface sediment, and may then play an unanticipated role in the benthicecosystem functioning, through e.g. the enhancement of fluxes at thesediment-water interface.

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