Title

Mats of Beggiatoa bacteria reveal that organic pollution from lumber mills inhibits growth of Zostera marina

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-2006

Publication Title

Marine Ecology

Department

Biology

Abstract

The objectives of this study were to determine the distribution and abundance of Zostera marina (eelgrass) in relation to the distribution of the mat forming bacteria Beggiatoa spp., and the levels of sulfide and organic material (wood waste) in the sediment. Underwater videography and intertidal surveys were used to map the distribution and abundance of Z. marina beds and Beggiatoa in the nearshore area of Commencement Bay, WA (USA), a location that has a long history of sawmill activity. Zostera marina occurred from the intertidal to ?6 m mean lower low water (MLLW) on sandy substrates in areas with low levels of sulfide (<50 ?m) and organic material (<5 % total volatile solids). Areas with high sulfide levels (>200 ?m) occurred where there were significant amounts of organic material in the sediments, which was found to be wood waste that had been discarded from sawmills. Zostera marina was absent from the intertidal and occurred at lower densities in areas with high sulfide levels. In contrast, mats of Beggiatoa were only found in areas where the sulfide levels were >1000 ?m and there were significant deposits of wood. Thus, the negative correlation between the distribution and abundance of Z. marina and Beggiatoa suggests that the presence of Beggiatoa mats could be used as a biological indicator of inhibiting levels of hydrogen sulfide in the marine environment.

Volume

27

Issue

4

pp.

372-380

ISSN

0173-9565