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Bio-dependent bed parameters as a proxy tool for sediment stability in mixed habitat intertidal areas



The stability of cohesive and non-cohesive sediments in a mixed intertidal habitat within the Ria Formosa tidal\ud lagoon, Portugal, was examined during two field campaigns as part of the EU F-ECTS project. The cohesive strength\ud meter Mk III was used to determine critical erosion shear stress (tc) within a variety of different intertidal habitats and\ud substrata, including Spartina maritima fields and Zostera noltii beds. The best predictor(s) for tc were derived from a\ud range of properties measured for the surface sediments (chlorophyll a; colloidal carbohydrate, water, organic content,\ud % fraction o63 mm, and seabed elevation). Pigment biomarkers were used to identify the dominant algal groups within\ud the surface phytobenthic assemblage.\ud Strong, seasonally dependent relationships were found between tc and habitat type, chl a; colloidal carbohydrate and\ud bed elevation. Typically, critical erosion thresholds decreased seawards, reflecting a change from biostabilisation by\ud cyanobacteria in the upper intertidal areas, to biostabilisation by diatoms on the bare substrata of the channel edges. In\ud the late summer/early autumn, cyanobacteria were the main sediment stabilisers, and colloidal carbohydrate was the\ud best bio-dependent predictor of tc across the entire field area. In the late winter/early spring, cyanobacterial activity was\ud lower, and sediment stabilisation by Enteromorpha clathrata was important; the best predictor of tc was bed elevation.\ud The implications and use of proxies for sediment stability are discussed in terms of feedback and sedimentation\ud processes operating across the intertidal area

Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.csr.2002.12.001
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