The Impact of a Benthic Filter Feeder: Limitations Imposed by Physical Transport of Algae to the Benthos

Journal or Book Title: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

Keywords: Acoustics; Algae; Benthos; Biomass; Diffusion coefficient; Eddy diffusivity; Filter feeders; Food consumption; Freshwater molluscs; Hydrodynamics; Mixing processes; Phytoplankton; Turbulence; Water column; Dreissena polymorpha; North America; Erie L.

Volume/Issue: 62/1

Page Number(s): 205-214

Year Published: 2006


We used an acoustic Doppler profiler to investigate the hydrodynamics of a nearshore site in western Lake Erie, and we incorporated the measured parameters in numerical simulations of phytoplankton consumption by benthic zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) to examine the link between pelagic production and benthic filter feeders. Daily-averaged eddy diffusivities varied from 10 super(-5) to 10 super(-4) m super(2)DTs super(-1) at our site. Our simulations demonstrate that diffusivities of this order decrease near-bed algal biomass, while algal biomass in the pelagic remains relatively unaffected. Between 8% and 67% of the algal biomass in the water column could be consumed daily, depending on the shape and magnitude of the diffusivity profile. Correspondingly, in situ vertical biomass profiles showed a near-bed zone of algal depletion, but no impact was observed near the surface. The impact of the zebra mussel in nearshore regions is expected to be stronger than in deeper open water. The flow of algal biomass into the benthos was tightly coupled with turbulent mixing, suggesting that open water algal consumption by zebra mussels is small compared with previously published estimates that ignored vertical turbulent mixing processes.

Type of Publication: Journal Article