Ecology: Mussel mix boosts erosion

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
469,
Page:
446
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/469446a
Published online

Changes in biodiversity can alter not only the interactions between species in ecosystems, but also the physical habitat.

Daniel Allen and Caryn Vaughn at the University of Oklahoma in Norman hypothesized that changes in mussel biodiversity might influence the erosion of riverbed sediments because of species differences in burrowing behaviour and ability to cause water turbulence. Using a series of artificial streams, they demonstrated that an increase in mussel species richness is associated with a rise in gravel erosion when population density is high — a result of interactions between species. This shows that biodiversity, and even changes in species abundance, can influence physical processes such as sediment transport.

M. DAVIS

Ecology doi:10.1890/10-0219.1 (2011)

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