|The effects of climate change on the macrofauna: in-situ experiments mimicking the effects of enhanced waves and temperature difference on tidal flats|
Hof, S. (2020). The effects of climate change on the macrofauna: in-situ experiments mimicking the effects of enhanced waves and temperature difference on tidal flats. NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Yerseke. 20 pp.
Tidal flats are important parts of marine ecosystems due to their multiple ecological and socio-economic functions. However, current climate change scenarios are threatening the tidal flat ecosystems via extreme weather conditions, such as more frequent storminess and heatwaves. These climate events can impact the sediment mixing process by tuning the bioturbation behavior of ecosystem engineers. Two separate in-situ experiments were conducted to study the effects of climate change on the functioning of macrofauna in tidal flat ecosystems. Raking was used to mimic the effects of storminess on sediment mixing, and sheltering devices were built up to manipulate temperature profiles on the tidal flat. The results show that simulated enhanced waves cause an increase of macrobenthos community size especially by smaller individuals (0-5 mm). Heatwaves cause a decrease in the macrobenthos community size of smaller individuals (0-5 mm), meaning smaller macrobenthos species can endure heatwaves less well than larger macrobenthos species. The effects of sea-level rise and heatwaves on the macrobenthic community can potentially affect the sediment erosion process, thereby the short-term dynamics and long-term evolution of tidal flats.