Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2005-01


Influence of eastern oysters on nitrogen and phosphorus regeneration in Chesapeake Bay, USA.




Newell, RIE; Fisher, TR; Holyoke, RR; Cornwell, JC


Dame, RF; Olenin, S, eds. The Comparative Roles of Suspension-Feeders in Ecosystems. Kluwer Academic Publishers
: 93 - 120


Suspension-feeding bivalves couple pelagic and benthic processes because they consume seston from the water column, and their biodeposits (feces and pseudofeces) settle on the sediment surface. Abundant stocks of bivalves can exert grazer control on the phytoplankton, and this results in some nitrogen and phosphorus being regenerated to the water column as excreta and via microbial decomposition of biodeposits. Bivalve biodeposition, however, enhances net ecosystem losses of N and P via sediment burial and bacterially mediated, coupled nitrification-denitrification. Bivalve feeding also reduces turbidity and thereby increases light available for microphytobenthos. Although microphytobenthos may compete with nitrifying bacteria for N, potentially reducing coupled  nitrification-denitrification, they retain N and P within sediments, further reducing net regeneration to the water column.

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