'Blue Carbon', which is carbon captured by marine living organisms, has recently been highlighted as a new option for climate change mitigation initiatives. In particular, coastal ecosystems have been recognized as significant carbon stocks because of their high burial rates and long-term sequestration of carbon. However, the direct contribution of Blue Carbon to the uptake of atmospheric CO2 through air-sea gas exchange remains unclear. We performed in situ measurements of carbon flows, including air-sea CO2 fluxes, dissolved inorganic carbon changes, net ecosystem production, and carbon burial rates in the boreal (Furen), temperate (Kurihama), and subtropical (Fukido) seagrass meadows of Japan from 2010 to 2013. In particular, the air-sea CO2 flux was measured using three methods: the bulk formula method, the floating chamber method, and the eddy covariance method. Our empirical results show that submerged autotrophic vegetation in shallow coastal waters can be functionally a sink for atmospheric CO2. This finding is contrary to the conventional perception that most near-shore ecosystems are sources of atmospheric CO2. The key factor determining whether or not coastal ecosystems directly decrease the concentration of atmospheric CO2 may be net ecosystem production. This study thus identifies a new ecosystem function of coastal vegetated systems; they are direct sinks of atmospheric CO2.
The response of bivalves to their abiotic environment has been widely studied in relation to hydroenvironmental conditions, sediment types and sediment grain sizes. However, the possible role of varying geoenvironmental conditions in their habitats remains poorly understood. Here, we show that the hardness of the surficial intertidal sediments varies by a factor of 20-50 due to suction development and suction-induced void state changes in the essentially saturated states of intertidal flats and beaches. We investigated the response of two species of bivalves, Ruditapes philippinarum and Donax semigranosus, in the laboratory by simulating such prevailing geoenvironmental conditions in the field. The experimental results demonstrate that the bivalve responses depended strongly on the varying geoenvironmental conditions. Notably, both bivalves consistently shifted their burrowing modes, reducing the burrowing angle and burial depth, in response to increasing hardness, to compensate for the excessive energy required for burrowing, as explained by a proposed conceptual model. This burrowing mode adjustment was accompanied by two burrowing criteria below or above which the bivalves accomplished vertical burrowing or failed to burrow, respectively. The suitable and fatal conditions differed markedly with species and shell lengths. The acute sensitivities of the observed bivalve responses to geoenvironmental changes revealed two distinctive mechanisms accounting for the adult-juvenile spatial distributions of Ruditapes philippinarum and the behavioral adaptation to a rapidly changing geoenvironment of Donax semigranosus. The present results may provide a rational basis by which to understand the ensuing, and to predict future, bivalve responses to geoenvironmental changes in intertidal zones.
Ecology Letters (2012) ABSTRACT: Food webs are comprised of a network of trophic interactions and are essential to elucidating ecosystem processes and functions. However, the presence of unknown, but critical networks hampers understanding of complex and dynamic food webs in nature. Here, we empirically demonstrate a missing link, both critical and variable, by revealing that direct predator-prey relationships between shorebirds and biofilm are widespread and mediated by multiple ecological and evolutionary determinants. Food source mixing models and energy budget estimates indicate that the strength of the missing linkage is dependent on predator traits (body mass and foraging action rate) and the environment that determines food density. Morphological analyses, showing that smaller bodied species possess more developed feeding apparatus to consume biofilm, suggest that the linkage is also phylogenetically dependent and affords a compelling re-interpretation of niche differentiation. We contend that exploring missing links is a necessity for revealing true network structure and dynamics.
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