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Effect of sea cucumber (Australostichopus mollis) grazing on coastal sediments impacted by mussel farm deposition
journal contributionposted on 03.08.2021, 02:25 by Matthew J Slater, Alexander CartonAlexander Carton
Deposit-feeding holothurians are important processors of surface sediments in many coastal marine systems. The present study examined the effect of grazing by the sea cucumber Australostichopus mollis on sediment impacted by green-lipped mussel biodeposits (faeces and pseudofaeces) from coastal aquaculture activities. Grazing effects were investigated in a series of tank-based feeding experiments conducted over 1, 2, 4 and 8 week periods. Sediment quality indicators routinely applied to determine the impacts of coastal aquaculture were used to evaluate sediment health from grazed and ungrazed sediments. Sea cucumber grazing resulted in reductions in total organic carbon, chlorophyll a and phaeopigment, as well as chlorophyll a/phaeopigment ratio of impacted sediments. These results demonstrate that sea cucumber grazing significantly reduces the accumulation of both organic carbon and phytopigments associated with biodeposition from mussel farms. Sea cucumber grazing offers a means of constraining or reversing the pollutive impacts of coastal bivalve aquaculture. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.