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Browsing by Subject "habitat complexity"

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  • Leinikki, Elli (2020)
    Iron-manganese (FeMn) concretions are found on soft sediment bottoms both in the deep sea and coastal sea areas, formed as a result of a combination of biogeochemical and microbial processes. It has been estimated that concretions occur at least in 11 % of the Finnish marine areas. Concretions form hard substrates on predominantly soft seafloors, and they are therefore suggested to increase geodiversity and habitat complexity of the seafloor. This has been found to correlate with biodiversity of the benthic fauna. Despite their widespread occurrence in the northern Baltic Sea, the ecological importance of FeMn concretions has been left unaddressed. In the recent assessment of threatened habitat types in Finland, concretion fields were classified as a data deficient habitat type. The aim of this study is to examine the role of FeMn concretions as habitats in the Baltic Sea ecosystem. Benthic biodiversity was investigated utilizing two approaches; the abundance of mobile fauna and sessile macrofauna were studied with point-dives. The data was compared to pre-existing data from similar soft bottoms where there are no observations of concretions, collected in the Finnish Inventory Programme for the Underwater Marine Environment (VELMU). Samples for sediment in-fauna were taken with a Van Veen Grab Sampler, and additional data was gathered also from Environmental Information System HERTTA (administered by Environmental Administration). The shape and quantity of concretions appear to affect the abundance of sediment in-fauna. Similarities to the invertebrate composition of soft sediment habitats depends of the soft sediment availability in the habitat, which is dependent on concretion shape and quantity. Crusts seem to affect the faunal composition more than spheroidal and discoidal concretions, as they offer the most complex habitats, significantly different from bare seafloors. Based on this study, the concretion fields should not necessarily be considered as just one habitat type, since the faunal composition appears to differ according to the shape of the concretions.