Ecosystem engineering at the sediment-water interface: Bioturbation and consumer-substrate interaction

Géraldine Nogaro, Florian Mermillod-Blondin, Maurice H. Valett, Frédérique François-Carcaillet, Jean Paul Gaudet, Michel Lafont, Janine Gibert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


In soft-bottom sediments, consumers may influence ecosystem function more via engineering that alters abiotic resources than through trophic influences. Understanding the influence of bioturbation on physical, chemical, and biological processes of the water-sediment interface requires investigating top-down (consumer) and bottom-up (resource) forces. The objective of the present study was to determine how consumer bioturbation mode and sediment properties interact to dictate the hydrologic function of experimental filtration systems clogged by the deposition of fine sediments. Three fine-grained sediments characterized by different organic matter (OM) and pollutant content were used to assess the influence of resource type: sediment of urban origin highly loaded with OM and pollutants, river sediments rich in OM, and river sediments poor in OM content. The effects of consumer bioturbation (chironomid larvae vs. tubificid worms) on sediment reworking, changes in hydraulic head and hydraulic conductivity, and water fluxes through the water-sediment interface were measured. Invertebrate influences in reducing the clogging process depended not only on the mode of bioturbation (construction of biogenic structures, burrowing and feeding activities, etc.) but also on the interaction between the bioturbation process and the sediments of the clogging layer. We present a conceptual model that highlights the importance of sediment influences on bioturbation and argues for the integration of bottom-up influence on consumer engineering activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-138
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Bottom-up influences
  • Clogging
  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Invertebrates
  • Top-down influences


Dive into the research topics of 'Ecosystem engineering at the sediment-water interface: Bioturbation and consumer-substrate interaction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this