Loss of benthic macrofauna functional traits correlates with changes in sediment biogeochemistry along an extreme salinity gradient in the Coorong lagoon, Australia

Orlando Lam-Gordillo, Luke M. Mosley, Stuart L. Simpson, David T. Welsh, Sabine Dittmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Estuarine ecosystems are considered hotspots for productivity, biogeochemical cycling and biodiversity, however, their functions and services are threatened by several anthropogenic pressures. We investigated how abundance and diversity of benthic macrofauna, and their functional traits, correlate to sediment biogeochemistry and nutrient concentrations throughout an estuarine-to-hypersaline lagoon. Benthic communities and functional traits were significantly different across the sites analysed, with higher abundance and more traits expressed in the estuarine region. The results revealed that the benthic trait differences correlated with sediment biogeochemistry and nutrient concentrations in the system. The estuarine regions were dominated by high abundance of large burrowing and bioturbating macrofauna, promoting nutrient cycling and organic matter mineralisation, while these organisms were absent in the hypersaline lagoon, favouring accumulation of organic matter and nutrients in the sediment. The results highlight the importance of preserving healthy benthic communities to maintain ecosystem functioning and mitigate the potential impacts of eutrophication in estuarine ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113202
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume174
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Australia
  • Biological traits
  • Eutrophication
  • Hypersaline
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Nutrient cycling

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