Evidence of short-term burial response by benthic macrofauna associated with the Mediterranean seagrass Cymodocea nodosa

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Meagan N Schrandt
Just Cebrián
Elizabeth S Darrow
D Joseph Dalrymple
C Marco-Méndez
LM Ferrero-Vicente
Kenneth L Heck Jr
José Luis Sánchez-Lizaso


Sedimentation and burial affect a variety of habitats worldwide, especially within coastal marine systems. In the Mediterranean, seagrasses like Cymodocea nodosa are commonly subjected to sedimentation and, although the response of C. nodosa has been documented, few studies have included macrofaunal responses. We used a manipulative field experiment to examine the effects of a single small-scale, pulse burial event on benthic invertebrate macrofauna. Burial did not affect the total abundance, richness, or diversity of higher taxa nor the live abundance or diversity after 5 days. However, live higher taxa richness decreased by day 3. After 5 days, such decrease reversed and partial recovery seemed to occur. Almost 2 months later, three of the buried plots remained with some additional sedimentation, but the other three had lost their sediment. We compared faunal metrics of buried plots between days 5 and 54 and found greater diversity on day 54, providing evidence that macrofaunal recovery apparent 5 days after burial seemed to persist. Although we likely underestimated the effects and can only be conservative with our conclusions, taken together our results suggest small-scale, pulse burial events can have some negative effects on the C. nodosa-associated benthic macrofaunal community, but the community can recover within a few weeks.

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