Lecture 23- Life in estuaries Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Lecture 23- Life in estuaries Deck (35):

What is an estuary?

– tidal-influenced lower part of river and its valley – sink for both fluvial & marine sediments -estuaries are relatively sheltered, low energy environments


What is a delta?

- composed of river- derived sediments


What are the key physical factors affecting the biota in estuaries? (3)

1. Salinity (levels, fluctuations) 2. Temperature (fluctuations) 3. Sediments (suspended, benthic)


Does salinity differ a lot in estuaries?

-yes, over small temporal and spatial scales -organisms need to be adaptive to survive


What are stenohaline marine species?

-tolerate narrow range of salinities


What are euryhaline marine species?

-tolerate side range of salinities -most common in estuaries


What are brackish water species?

-tolerate saline waters but lower salinity than full sea water (35ppt)


What are freshwater species?

-low salinity tolerance


What is the distribution of types of salinity tolerance species in estuaries?



What is an osmoregulator?

-regulates internal ion concentrations


What is an osmoconformer?

-internal ion concentrations change with ambient salinity


Can a species be both an osmoconformer and an osmoregulator?

-yes -eg. crab: bit of each, at low salinities= conforming,

-in inbetween salinities= regulating,

-when salinity high= conforming

-strategy varies with the outside conditions


What is an example of a perfect osmoconformer?

-polychaete worm= almost the perfect osmoconformer, energetically easier option provided your internal structures can cope with it


What are two examples of perfect osmoregulators?

-salmon and eel= almost perfect osmoregulators= hard work in a physiological sense


What are characteristics of mangroves?

-trees and shrubs -halophytes= salt loving -adapted to conditions in mid-high intertidal -usual tropical but have them in Victoria


What are the 4 ways in which mangroves cope with salt?

1. Reduce salt intake= have selectively permeable surface of roots 2. Reduce water loos=via leaves, fewer stomata, don't let water evaporate as much 3. Isolate salt=for the salt that gets in, isolated in cell vacuoles, pump it into older leaves so when they are shed the salt is dispensed with 4. Increase salt loss= via leaves, have salt glands that exude salt to the outside, encrusted salt on the surface then falls off


How do marine fish cope with salt water?

-body fluids are less concentrated than seawater

-thus water loss via osmosis

-marine fish are always battling losing water

-to prevent it they drink water

-then get more salt in than they want

-so they excrete lot of urine, to try to get rid of the salt


What are the behavioural strategies of species living in salty water?

-mobile species:change longitudinal position within estuary, change position within water column -sessile or sedentary species: hide in burrows or close shells -deep in the sediment the salinity does not change very much -on the top it does change -burrowing is very helpful when tide changes so you escape change in salinity -bivalves= close the shell and keep water out so you control internal environment -some mussels can stay closed for a couple of months= salinity control


What are the temperature conditions in estuaries?

-can vary greatly -shallow depths= varies very quickly -large surface area -variability is exacerbated by tides


How does Northern Pacific seastar deal with temperature and salinity?

-can withstand: 19-41 ppt salinity (28.5-34.5 ppt for reproduction) -temperature: 0-25C (5-23C for reproduction) -but larvae survive in 35ppt only if temp is low -few larvae survive 34 ppt at 20C -strongly adaptive, strongly euryhaline end eurythermal, but larvae not as tolerant, can survive in full sea water only if the water is colder


What are the sediments in estuaries like?

-much fluvial in origin -mostly rich in organic material -transport of nutrients


Does sand have different grain sizes?

-yes -wentworth classification -really fine= mud -then fine sand, medium sand etc. eventually boulder -the type of sand can indicate what species will be present as many have different preferences


What is space between grains important for?

-for organisms

-circulation of water, dissolved nutrients and gases

-sorted= how uniform the grain size is

-well sorted (coarse)= water drains quickly

-well sorted (fine)= water drains slowly

-poorly sorted(uneven grain size)= water blocked


What is bioturbation?

-biota disturbs the sediment and allows oxygen in etc. -biota is very important for turnover of sediments -may ingest/excrete sediments and associated organic matter -may actively irrigate burrows -increase water-sediment interface


What are ghost shrimps important for?

-ghost shrimp- have burrows -up to 58cm high -help with sediment turnover, the edges of the burrow are chemically are different than therest of the sediment as it is open to air and water= so will help oxygenate the sediment and help with nutrient exchange -makes a difference to organisms living in those sediments


What are anoxic sediments?

-low in oxygen in sediments -reduced circulation + decay of organic matter -black in colour -rotten egg smell -little biota


What do suspended sediments do?

• Reduce penetration of light needed for photosynthesis • May clog feeding mechanisms of filter feeders -murky water= suspended sediment if too much sediment then too bad for filter feeders -bigger grains settle quickly -fine sediment hangs around for a long time before settling


What is the productivity and nutrient level in estuaries?

• High primary productivity –nutrients carried in by tide & river –nutrients released by nitrogen-fixing bacteria & decomposition of detritus –nutrients then used by bacteria, algae & plants


What is the estuarine food web?

-detritus is at the centre of the food web

-open water, mangroves and further inland salt marsh= common in victoria


Why is connectivity between estuaries important and what are its two types?

1. Lateralconnectivity – between estuaries 2. Longitudinalconnectivity – upstream/downstream within estuary -how one habitat can be a source or a sink for another habitat -connectivity is important (larvae movement)


How does white mangrove disperse?

• Avicennia marina – seed germinates on tree – drops off, floats about 3 days, then sinks – adrift up to 5 months -while floating a root system starts developing, tides can carry them -they move around the bottom for up to few months, then grow enough to get a grip -can attach to the sediment and get leaves etc.


What is the life cycle of a blue crab?

-important commercial species

-eggs on the underside of the female, females move towards the mouth of the estuary

-migration, then release the larvae

-the larvae go trough the mouth into the ocean for a bit

-when well developed, they position themselves so they get carried bacjk into the estuary(behavioural adaptation to get back into the estuary)

-tide carries them back

-evetually mass of adult crabs in the same spot where the females walked from


What are anadromous fish?

-• anadromous – from sea upstream to spawn in freshwater • e.g. salmon -much of adult life in the North Pacific, then start going up the rivers when ready to spawn, then die -larvae move down and swim in the pacific -then again...


What are catadromous fish?

• catadromous – from freshwater downstream to sea to spawn • e.g. most eels


What are shorebirds?

-• 36 international migrant species to Aust • about 2 million individuals annually • mostly using East Asian Australasian Flyway -godwit= 11000 km direct -estuaries= birds stop there and feed and rest before going on on their journey again -• many come to estuarine wetlands – feed on benthic invertebrates