Interactive influences of the marine yabby (Trypaea australiensis) and mangrove (Avicennia marina) leaf litter on benthic metabolism and nitrogen cycling in sandy estuarine sediment

Ryan J K Dunn, David T. Welsh, Mark A. Jordan, James M. Arthur, Charles J. Lemckert, Peter R. Teasdale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


A previous study has demonstrated that in sandy sediment the marine yabby (Trypaea australiensis) stimulated benthic metabolism, nitrogen regeneration and nitrification, but did not stimulate denitrification, as the intense bioturbation of the yabbies eliminated anoxic microzones amenable to denitrification. It was hypothesised that organic matter additions would alleviate this effect as the buried particles would provide anoxic microniches for denitrifiers. To test this hypothesis a 55-day microcosm (75 cm × 36 cm diameter) experiment, comprising four treatments: sandy sediment (S), sediment + yabbies (S + Y), sediment + A. marina litter (S + OM) and sediment + yabbies + A. marina litter (S + Y + OM), was conducted. Trypaea australiensis significantly stimulated benthic metabolism, nitrogen regeneration, nitrification and nitrate reduction in the presence and the absence of litter additions. In contrast, the effects of litter additions alone were more subtle, developed gradually and were only significant for sediment oxygen demand. However, there was a significant interaction between yabbies and litter with rates of total nitrate reduction and denitrification being significantly greater in the S + Y + OM than all other treatments, presumably due to the decaying buried litter providing anoxic micro-niches suitable to nitrate reduction. In addition, both T. australiensis and litter significantly decreased rates of DNRA and its contribution to nitrate reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-129
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


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