Spatio-temporal variability in benthic-pelagic coupling and the role of macrobenthos
Benthic-pelagic solute fluxes, their spatio-temporal variability and governing processes, will be studied along the entire salinity gradient of the Scheldt estuary. Apart from 6 intertidal sites, 3/4 subtidal sites will be sampled; one in each salinity zone (polyhaline/mesohaline/oligohaline) and the mouth region. A Reineck box-corer will be used to collect the subtidal sediment. All samples will be taken to the lab, where nutrient and oxygen fluxes, bioirrigation and bioturbation rates will be measured. The data will later be integrated, together with experimental data under different suspended and deposited sediment conditions, into a comprehensive model in order to understand the functioning and resilience of shallow coastal soft-sediment habitats.