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Diversity 2019, 11(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11010011

After the Fall: Legacy Effects of Biogenic Structure on Wind-Generated Ecosystem Processes Following Mussel Bed Collapse

1
Environmental Studies Department, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA 17325, USA
2
Unità di Biologia Marina ed Ecologia, Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Pisa, Via Derna 1, 56126 Pisa, Italy
3
College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
4
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto per l’Ambiente Marino Costiero (CNR-IAMC), Località Sa Mardini, Torregrande, 09170 Oristano, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 December 2018 / Revised: 9 January 2019 / Accepted: 11 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity of Ecosystem Engineers in the World Coasts and Oceans)
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Abstract

Blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) are ecosystem engineers with strong effects on species diversity and abundances. Mussel beds appear to be declining in the Gulf of Maine, apparently due to climate change and predation by the invasive green crab, Carcinus maenas. As mussels die, they create a legacy of large expanses of shell biogenic structure. In Maine, USA, we used bottom traps to examine effects of four bottom cover types (i.e., live mussels, whole shells, fragmented shells, bare sediment) and wind condition (i.e., days with high, intermediate, and low values) on flow-related ecosystem processes. Significant differences in transport of sediment, meiofauna, and macrofauna were found among cover types and days, with no significant interaction between the two factors. Wind condition had positive effects on transport. Shell hash, especially fragmented shells, had negative effects, possibly because it acted as bed armor to reduce wind-generated erosion and resuspension. Copepods had the greatest mobility and shortest turnover times (0.15 d), followed by nematodes (1.96 d) and the macrofauna dominant, Tubificoides benedeni (2.35 d). Shell legacy effects may play an important role in soft-bottom system responses to wind-generated ecosystem processes, particularly in collapsed mussel beds, with implications for recolonization, connectivity, and the creation and maintenance of spatial pattern. View Full-Text
Keywords: mussel bed; Mytilus edulis; physical ecosystem engineer; shell hash legacy effects; wind condition; biogenic structure; sediment flux; meiofauna and macrofauna transport mussel bed; Mytilus edulis; physical ecosystem engineer; shell hash legacy effects; wind condition; biogenic structure; sediment flux; meiofauna and macrofauna transport
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Commito, J.A.; Jones, B.R.; Jones, M.A.; Winders, S.E.; Como, S. After the Fall: Legacy Effects of Biogenic Structure on Wind-Generated Ecosystem Processes Following Mussel Bed Collapse. Diversity 2019, 11, 11.

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