Friend, P.L., Ciavola, P., Cappucci, S. and Santos, R.
Bio-dependent bed parameters as a proxy tool for sediment stability in mixed habitat intertidal areas
Continental Shelf Research, 23, (17-19), . (doi:10.1016/j.csr.2002.12.001).
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The stability of cohesive and non-cohesive sediments in a mixed intertidal habitat within the Ria Formosa tidal lagoon, Portugal, was examined during two field campaigns as part of the EU F-ECTS project. The cohesive strength meter Mk III was used to determine critical erosion shear stress (c) within a variety of different intertidal habitats and substrata, including Spartina maritima fields and Zostera noltii beds. The best predictor(s) for c were derived from a range of properties measured for the surface sediments (chlorophyll a, colloidal carbohydrate, water, organic content, % fraction <63 m, and seabed elevation). Pigment biomarkers were used to identify the dominant algal groups within the surface phytobenthic assemblage.
Strong, seasonally dependent relationships were found between c and habitat type, chl a, colloidal carbohydrate and bed elevation. Typically, critical erosion thresholds decreased seawards, reflecting a change from biostabilisation by cyanobacteria in the upper intertidal areas, to biostabilisation by diatoms on the bare substrata of the channel edges. In the late summer/early autumn, cyanobacteria were the main sediment stabilisers, and colloidal carbohydrate was the best bio-dependent predictor of c across the entire field area. In the late winter/early spring, cyanobacterial activity was lower, and sediment stabilisation by Enteromorpha clathrata was important; the best predictor of c was bed elevation. The implications and use of proxies for sediment stability are discussed in terms of feedback and sedimentation processes operating across the intertidal area.
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