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The effect of sewage discharge on the ecosystem engineering activities of two East African fiddler crab species: Consequences for mangrove ecosystem functioning
Bartolini, F.; Cimo, F.; Fusi, M.; Dahdouh-Guebas, F.; Lopes, G.P.; Cannicci, S. (2011). The effect of sewage discharge on the ecosystem engineering activities of two East African fiddler crab species: Consequences for mangrove ecosystem functioning. Mar. Environ. Res. 71(1): 53-61. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marenvres.2010.10.002
In: Marine Environmental Research. Applied Science Publishers: Barking. ISSN 0141-1136; e-ISSN 1879-0291, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Trefwoord
Author keywords
    Bioturbation; Sewage; Mangrove; Ecosystem engineering; East Africa; Uca

Auteurs  Top 
  • Bartolini, F.
  • Cimo, F.
  • Fusi, M.
  • Dahdouh-Guebas, F.
  • Lopes, G.P.
  • Cannicci, S.

Abstract
    A number of studies have suggested that mangrove forests and their faunal components may be pre-adapted to the impact of organic waste discharge, making them possible natural wastewater treatment wetlands. However, the results from recent research are contradictory. Some studies have shown that negative effects, sometimes subtle and difficult to observe, can be detected on specific biotic components of forests subjected to organic pollution. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate possible alterations in the ecosystem engineering activities of a fiddler crab community dominating the landward belts of Kenyan mangrove forests. The total processed sediment produced by burrowing and foraging activities in a population from a pen-urban mangrove area receiving untreated domestic sewage was compared with that from a forest not affected by urban wastewater. The results showed how the pert-urban site hosted a higher biomass of crabs, which produced a significantly lower amount of processed sediment compared with the pristine site, resulting in a lower total top sediment mixing activity of the crabs. Thus, the present study showed a link between sewage exposure and top sediment reworking by crabs, which is potentially beneficial for mangrove growth and ecosystem functioning. This represents a possible example of cryptic ecological degradation in mangal systems.

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