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Long-term macrobioerosion in the Mediterranean Sea assessed by micro-computed tomography

  • Biological erosion is a key process for the recycling of carbonate and the formation of calcareous sediments in the oceans. Experimental studies showed that bioerosion is subject to distinct temporal variability, but previous long-term studies were restricted to tropical waters. Here, we present results from a 14-year bioerosion experiment that was carried out along the rocky limestone coast of the island of Rhodes, Greece, in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, in order to monitor the pace at which bioerosion affects carbonate substrate and the sequence of colonisation by bioeroding organisms. Internal macrobioerosion was visualised and quantified by micro-computed tomography and computer-algorithm-based segmentation procedures. Analysis of internal macrobioerosion traces revealed a dominance of bioeroding sponges producing eight types of characteristic Entobia cavity networks, which were matched to five different clionaid sponges by spicule identification in extracted tissue. The morphology of the entobians strongly varied depending on the species of the producing sponge, its ontogenetic stage, available space, and competition by other bioeroders. An early community developed during the first 5 years of exposure with initially very low macrobioerosion rates and was followed by an intermediate stage when sponges formed large and more diverse entobians and bioerosion rates increased. After 14 years, 30 % of the block volumes were occupied by boring sponges, yielding maximum bioerosion rates of 900 g m^−2 yr^−1. A high spatial variability in macrobioerosion prohibited clear conclusions about the onset of macrobioerosion equilibrium conditions. This highlights the necessity of even longer experimental exposures and higher replication at various factor levels in order to better understand and quantify temporal patterns of macrobioerosion in marine carbonate environments.

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Author:Claudia Färber, Jürgen Titschack, Christine H. L. Schönberg, Karsten Ehrig, Karin Boos, Daniel BaumORCiD, Bernd Illerhaus, Ulla Asgaard, Richard G. Bromley, André Freiwald, Max Wisshak
Document Type:Article
Parent Title (English):Biogeosciences
First Page:3461
Last Page:3474
Place of publication:http://www.biogeosciences.net/13/3461/2016/
Year of first publication:2016
Page Number:14
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