Direct contribution of clams (Ruditapes philippinarum) to benthic fluxes, nitrification, denitrification and nitrous oxide emission in a farmed sediment
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The influence of the manila clam (Ruditapes philippinarum) on N-cycle processes, and oxygen and nutrient fluxes in a farmed sediment was investigated using a multiple core incubation approach and parallel incubations of individual clams. Clam population/biomass density varied ∼8-fold between cores and all sediment-water column solute (O2. N2, N2O, NH4+, NOX and DIN) fluxes and benthic process (N-regeneration, nitrification and denitrification) rates were strongly and significantly correlated with clam density/biomass. Isolated clams exhibited high rates of respiration, N-excretion, nitrification and denitrification of 2050 ± 70, 395 ± 49, 201 ± 42 and 235 ± 40 nmol individual−1 h−1, respectively. The direct contribution of the clams and their associated microbiota to benthic processes was estimated by multiplying the per individual rates by the number of clams in each incubated core. The clams on average directly accounted for 64–133% of total rates of sediment oxygen demand, N-regeneration, nitrification and denitrification, indicating that they regulated processes primarily through their own metabolic activity and that of bacteria that colonise them. Clams and the farmed sediments were significant sources of the greenhouse gas N2O, but this was primarily due to their high nitrification and denitrification rates, rather than high specific N2O yields, as N2O emissions represented <1% of total N2O + N2 production. The clam-farmed sediments had a high denitrification efficiency of 67 ± 10%, but this ecosystem service came at the environmental cost of increased N-regeneration and N2O emission rates. The measured N2O emissions indicate that bivalve aquaculture may be a significant source of N2O. It is therefore recommended that N2O emissions should be included in the impact assessments of current and future bivalve-farming projects.
Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
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