Benthic video landers reveal impacts of dredged sediment deposition events on mobile epifauna are acute but transitory
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Benthic video landers reveal impacts of dredged sediment deposition events on mobile epifauna are acute but transitory

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
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    The “beneficial uses” of dredged sediment are increasingly being explored for habitat restoration and beach nourishment, but beneficial uses must be tempered by evaluating impacts to organisms. We studied a subtidal nearshore deposition site intended to aid beach nourishment where a “thin-layer” sediment deployment method was employed to minimize mounding and disperse sediment within a proscribed area. Baited benthic video landers (BVLs) in a Before-After Control-Impact (BACI) experimental design were used to test the acute effects (within one hour of deposition) of sediment deposition on dominant epifaunal Dungeness crab (Cancer magister) and dog whelk (Nucella spp). The effects of sediment deposition depths and the lateral surge (the turbidity front transiting the seafloor) were both considered. Observations revealed sedimentation levels were limited to <4 cm and burial likely posed no direct threat to epifauna. However, video and instrument measurements showed the lateral surge to impact the BVLs as a 1 to 3 m/s sediment-laden front. Crabs were significantly impacted, while gastropods were more resistant to dislodgment. However, the high velocity impact was relatively brief (2 to 7 min). Further, crabs returned to forage at BVLs after a mean lag of about 20 min post-impact. These results indicate an acute but ephemeral impact effect on crab, and support use of the thin-layer deposition method to minimize burial. Our novel use of BVLs in a BACI experimental design were an effective means of evaluating sediment impacts to targeted mobile epifaunal species, and video observations were informative for understanding lateral surge dynamics and the behavioral interactions of organisms.
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    Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 538, 151526
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