The contribution of benthic macrofauna to the nutrient filter in coastal lagoons
Marine Pollution Bulletin
Human activities in coastal areas have increased the occurrence of eutrophication events, especially in vulnerable ecosystems such as coastal lagoons. Although we have a general knowledge of the consequences of eutrophication in these ecosystems, some efforts need to be made to understand biotic feedbacks that could modify the response of the environment to nutrient enrichment. The plant-mediated 'coastal filter' is one of the main factors that determine lagoonal efficiency in processing excess nutrients. In this context, the present paper examined the relative contribution of benthic macrofauna to the 'coastal filter' of a Mediterranean lagoon. The analysis of macrofaunal assemblages in the Mar Menor lagoon led to a clear differentiation between shallow areas of net nutrient recycling and exportation and deeper areas of net retention. These differences enhance nutrient removal from the water column, thus increasing the ecosystem's resistance to eutrophication.