Journal article

Water filtration by burrowing sandprawns provides novel insights on endobenthic engineering and solutions for eutrophication

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Publication Details

Author list: Venter O, Pillay D, Prayag K

Publisher: Nature Research (part of Springer Nature): Fully open access journals / Nature Publishing Group

Publication year: 2020

Journal: Scientific Reports

Volume number: 10

Start page: 1

End page: 11

Total number of pages: 11

ISSN: 2045-2322

eISSN: 2045-2322


Managing coastal ecosystems and preserving socio-ecological functioning require a comprehensive
understanding of ecological services provided by resident organisms. Here, we provide novel
information on water-filtration activities of endobenthic sandprawns (Callichirus kraussi), which
are key ecosystem engineers in South African coasts. We demonstrate experimentally that benthic
engineering by sandprawns reduces phytoplankton biomass by roughly 50%. Using long-term estuarine
data, we demonstrate similar reductions in phytoplankton biomass (by roughly 70%) in sandprawndominated
areas. Increased burrow wall chlorophyll-a relative to surface sediments that was evident
in experiments suggests that pelagic filtration occurs through bi-directional water pumping and
phytoplankton adsorption onto burrow walls. Our findings expand understanding of the ecological
relevance of sandprawns and functionally similar organisms, the mechanisms by which they engineer
ecosystems and their role in mediating coastal bentho-pelagic coupling. Our findings also highlight the
potential for deposit-feeders to be used as nature-based solutions to counter coastal eutrophication.


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Last updated on 2021-25-03 at 18:16