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See detailAn overview of the microbenthic loop in Posidonia oceanica meadows: the good, the bad and the ugly
Pete, Dorothée ULg; Quattrocchi, Loïc; Velimirov, Branko et al

in Creed, J.C.; Oigman-Pszczol, S.S. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 10th International Seagrass Biology Workshop (ISBW10), 25- 30 November 2012, Armação dos Búzios, Brazil (2012, November)

Posidonia oceanica is an endemic seagrass of the Mediterranean Sea. The ecosystem based on this plant is essential from an ecological and economical point of view (commercial species, touristic activities ... [more ▼]

Posidonia oceanica is an endemic seagrass of the Mediterranean Sea. The ecosystem based on this plant is essential from an ecological and economical point of view (commercial species, touristic activities, oxygen production), though very sensitive to environmental perturbations. To detect those perturbations, scientists are trying to find more efficient ecological indicators. Most of the time, those indicators are based on the plant itself. Unfortunately, this seagrass does not react very quickly to perturbations so, when a reaction is noticed, it is often too late to prevent irremediable damages to the ecosystem. The sedimentary compartment of P. oceanica meadows has been less studied than the canopy level. However, it could be a good source of ecological indicators because it is the final container of all the pollution. In this framework, the microbenthic loop has been studied. It is a major subsystem of those meadows and encompasses organic matter, bacteria, microphytobenthos and meiofauna. As those organisms have a rapid turnover and stay almost all their life inside the sediment, they seemed good potential indicators. This presentation will show what is useful or not inside the sediment and more specifically inside the microbenthic loop. Results of a comparison between a fish farm and a reference location will be used, as well as in situ experiments (shading and sediment loading) and small spatial scale variations. At the end of this presentation, you will know what are the good, the bad and the ugly in the sedimentary compartment of a P. oceanica meadow. [less ▲]

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See detailUse of semi-quantitative kit methods to study the heterotrophic bacterial community of Posidonia oceanica meadows: Limits and possible applications
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Velimirov, Branko; Poulicek, Mathieu ULg et al

in Estuarine Coastal & Shelf Science (2012), 109

Rapid, easy and low cost semi-quantitative methods were tested to study the heterotrophic bacterial community of Posidonia oceanica meadows and were compared to techniques commonly used in microbial ... [more ▼]

Rapid, easy and low cost semi-quantitative methods were tested to study the heterotrophic bacterial community of Posidonia oceanica meadows and were compared to techniques commonly used in microbial ecology. Free and pore-water bacterial densities were estimated by luminescence, and principal enzymatic activities, metabolic capabilities and benthic mineralisation processes were studied with microtitration methods: ApiZym galleries, Biolog microplates and BART tests. Bacterial densities varied little throughout the year and were around 5.0 10^5 and 6.0 10^6 cells ml -1 of free and pore-water, respectively. The combined use of the ApiZym gallery and the Biolog microtitration plate permitted highlighting bacterial enzymatic activities susceptible to degrade principal organic polymers present in the Posidonia meadow, and to correlate these enzymatic activities to the subsequent potential utilization of resulting monomeric products. Levels of enzymatic activities (1.80-8.36 nmoles substrates h -1 ml- 1) and energetic bacterial metabolism (1.80-6.42 nmoles substrates h -1 ml- 1) presented seasonality relying on the temperature regime and on the primary production (Posidonia and phytoplankton). Main mineralization processes of buried organic matter through sulfate and iron reduction activities were successfully detected. Despite the complexity of the studied ecosystem, results obtained by this semi-quantitative approach, compared to studies applying commonly used methods in microbial ecology, highlighted the same bacterial dominant key processes. Their low cost, rapid and easy use, and the low level of expertise and sophistication they require means that these techniques are of use to many employed in environmental surveys. [less ▲]

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See detailThe use of Eco-Exergy in Oceanology: Application to Posidonia oceanica meadows
Pete, Dorothée ULg; Velimirov, Branko; Gobert, Sylvie ULg

Conference (2011, June 17)

In classic thermodynamics, exergy is defined as the useful work a system can perform when brought into equilibrium with its environment. It represents a measure of the distance from thermodynamic ... [more ▼]

In classic thermodynamics, exergy is defined as the useful work a system can perform when brought into equilibrium with its environment. It represents a measure of the distance from thermodynamic equilibrium. From that definition, some researchers (S.E. Jørgensen) have decided to apply this theory to ecosystems and called this expression of exergy “Eco-exergy”. According to this theory, a developing ecosytem trends to go far from its thermodynamic equilibrium and its exergy content trends to increase. Thus, the Laboratory of Oceanology of the University of Liege has decided to apply this quite new theory to Posidonia oceanica meadows, an endemic ecosystem of the Mediterranean coastal zone. This ecosystem is known as a good environmental quality indicator. So it was choosen to test the relevance of eco-exergy index as a quality indicator in the Mediterranean Sea. As this ecosystem is complex, this study focuses on the sedimentary compartment and the microbenthic loop (organic matter, bacteria, microphytobenthos and meiofauna). Some estimations of this eco-exergy index in the sedimentary compartment of a P. oceanica meadow are presented here. According to them, it seems that the eco-exergy index is not sensitive enough to catch effects of perturbations in this ecosystem. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of shading and sediment alterations on Posidonia oceanica meadows: in situ experiments
Pete, Dorothée ULg; Velimirov, Branko; Lepoint, Gilles ULg et al

Conference (2010, November 24)

In the Mediterranean Sea, the seagrass Posidonia oceanica is affected by many threats from anthropogenic sources. One of them is the increasing development of fish farming, which is responsible of the ... [more ▼]

In the Mediterranean Sea, the seagrass Posidonia oceanica is affected by many threats from anthropogenic sources. One of them is the increasing development of fish farming, which is responsible of the destruction of some meadows. Within troubles cause by those fish farms on the surrounding environment, the increase of phytoplankton biomass in the water column (leading to a shading effect) and a modification of the sediment are often cited as a reason of seagrass disappearance. To understand how those troubles are affecting P. oceanica and its sedimentary compartment, in situ experiments were led during three months, from the end of May til the end of August 2009, in STARESO (STAtion de REcherches Sous-marines et Océanographiques, Corsica, France), at a depth of 10 meters. The shading was mimicked by three replicated shading frames (3 x 1 m), which stopped around 50 % of the incident light. To modify the sedimentary compartment, some sediment was taken from under the fish farm of Calvi (Corsica, France) and added once a week on marked zones in the seagrass meadow. Those sites were compared with a control site, situated in the same meadow. Samples were taken once a month and consisted in pore water, sediment cores and shoots of P. oceanica. An estimation of the density of the meadow in every sampling zones was also performed. Measured parameters are the concentration of nutrients in pore water, grain size, redox potential discontinuity (RPD), biomass of bacteria, organic matter, meiofauna and microphytobenthos within the sediment, total carbon and nitrogen in the sediment and leaves, the length, width and biomass of leaves and shoots, the biomass of epiphytes and the content of chlorophyll a in leaves. During those experiments, Posidonia oceanica was not very affected. However, some parameters of the sedimentary compartment were modified (RPD, biomass of bacteria, organic matter, nutrients in pore water,…), suggesting a modification in the functioning of the ecosystem. These results are important because they show that the sedimentary compartment reacts more rapidly to threats then the seagrass itself. So, it could be an interesting tool in quality assessments. [less ▲]

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See detailShading and alterations of the sediment: in situ experiments to mimic impacts of fish farms on a Mediterranean coastal ecosystem
Pete, Dorothée ULg; Velimirov, Branko; Lepoint, Gilles ULg et al

Poster (2010, October)

In the Mediterranean coastal zone, the seagrass Posidonia oceanica forms underwater meadows which sustain a high biodiversity and has many important roles (production of oxygen, protection of coasts ... [more ▼]

In the Mediterranean coastal zone, the seagrass Posidonia oceanica forms underwater meadows which sustain a high biodiversity and has many important roles (production of oxygen, protection of coasts, ...). Unfortunately, they are more and more threaten, notably by the increasing development of aquaculture. Indeed, fish farms increase the biomass of phytoplankton organisms in the water column (leading to a shading effect) and modify the sediment, which entail the disappearance of the seagrass. To understand the impact of those troubles on P. oceanica and the ecosystem, in situ experiments were led during three months, in STARESO (STAtion de Recherches Sous- marines et Océanographiques; Calvi, Corsica), at a depth of 10 meters. The shading was mimicked by shading frames, which stopped around 50 % of the incident light. To modify the sedimentary compartment, sediment was taken from under the aquaculture of Calvi and added once a week on marked zones in the meadow. Those sites were compared with a control site, situated near them. Measured parameters are: the concentration of nutrients in pore water, grain size, redox potential discontinuity, biomasses of bacteria, organic matter, meiofauna and microphytobenthos within the sediment, the length, width, biomass and chlorophyll a content of P. oceanica leaves and the biomass of epiphytes. During those experiments, P. oceanica was not very affected although some parameters of the sedimentary compartment were modified. These results show that the sedimentary compartment reacts more rapidly to threats then the seagrass itself. So, it could be an interesting tool in quality assessments. [less ▲]

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See detailFish farm impacts on meiofauna and the microbenthic loop in Posidonia oceanica meadows
Pete, Dorothée ULg; Mannard, Jennifer ULg; Velimirov, Branko et al

in Hendrik, Gheerardyn; Nara Bezerra, Tania; Cnudde, Clio (Eds.) et al Fourteenth International Meiofauna Conference, Aula Academia, Ghent, 11-16 July 2010. (2010, July)

For about ten years, fish farming has been expanding all over the world. Even if this way of producing fishes is presented as a solution against overfishing, its impact on the surrounding environment can ... [more ▼]

For about ten years, fish farming has been expanding all over the world. Even if this way of producing fishes is presented as a solution against overfishing, its impact on the surrounding environment can be important. For example, meadows of Posidonia oceanica, the endemic seagrass of the Mediterranean coastal zone, are fading close to those aquaculture, showing negative impacts on this hot spot of biodiversity. This seagrass is used as an indicator of perturbations, although it does not react quickly, mainly because of its low turnover rate (1,5 y-1). So, it is proposed here to use meiofauna and the microbenthic loop (organic matter, bacteria, microphytobenthos and meiofauna) of this ecosystem to detect earlier perturbations due to fish farms. Moreover, the exergy index, measuring the distance between an ecosystem and its optimum state (climax), is also calculated on the microbenthic loop in order to show its interrest in ecological studies. Study sites are both situated in the Gulf of Calvi (Corsica, France), in P. oceanica meadows, at a depth of 22 m. The studied fish farm is small (10 cages), situated offshore in front of Calvi and produces 40 tons of seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) per year. The reference site is located in front of the research station STARESO (STation de REcherches Sous-marine et Oceanographiques). Sediment cores (diameter: 4,7 cm) were taken in November 2008 at both sites and sliced in four layers (0-1 cm, 1-2 cm, 2-5 cm and 5-10 cm), according to the expected abundance of meiofauna organisms. Biomass and abundance of every parts of the microbenthic loop were thus analysed. Results concerning abundance, biomass and diversity of meiofauna organisms are presented here and compared with the rest of the microbenthic loop. Values of biomasses are also integrated in the calculation of the exergy index. Finally, this study evaluate the interest of meiofauna and the microbenthic loop to detect perturbations due to an aquaculture. [less ▲]

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See detailCan we use exergy index and the microbenthic loop as indicators of perturbations in Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile meadows?
Pete, Dorothée ULg; Lenartz, Fabian ULg; Velimirov, Branko et al

Poster (2009, November 27)

Nowadays, many anthropogenic perturbations threaten the Mediterranean Sea. Posidonia oceanica , its endemic phanerogam, is often used as a pollution descriptor. Unfortunately, it does not react very fast ... [more ▼]

Nowadays, many anthropogenic perturbations threaten the Mediterranean Sea. Posidonia oceanica , its endemic phanerogam, is often used as a pollution descriptor. Unfortunately, it does not react very fast because of its low turnover rate (i.e. 1.5y-1). To solve that problem, this project proposes to use the microbenthic loop (meiofauna, bacteria, microphytobenthos and organic matter) of this important coastal ecosystem to detect anthropogenic pollutions earlier, because its components may react more rapidly than the posidonia plant. Every components of the loop are investigated and characterized, in order to determine their reactions to perturbations and use them in the calculation of the exergy index. This index comes from the thermodynamic theory of ecosystems and expresses the distance of an ecosystem, at a given state, from its equilibrium. The higher this index, the closer from its optimum state (climax) the ecosystem is. To calculate it, the biomass of each part of the studied ecosystem, weighted by a factor called β, is needed. This factor is estimated on a genetic basis and given in Jørgensen et al. (2005). The final aim of this project is to show if the exergy index can be used in the Mediterranean Sea as a tool in monitoring strategies, specifically in the sedimentary compartment of P. oceanica meadows. To realise these goals, a reference meadow was chosen near the research station STARESO (STAtion de REcherches Sous-marines et Oceanographiques) in Calvi Bay (Corsica, France). This meadow is studied since the 80’s and its good state of health is proven. Seasonal, spatial (small scale) and bathymetric variations in the microbenthic loop are studied there since 2007, by sediment cores (diameter=4.7cm, length=10cm). Those results are compared for 2008 with the patterns observed in a supposed perturbed site, situated close to a fish farm, in Calvi Bay too. In situ experiments were also led in summer 2009. During three months, a shading experiment and an enrichment of the sediment with sediment coming from under the aquaculture (once a week) were performed. Those experiments aimed to understand reactions of the microbenthic loop to those kinds of perturbations, that are often occurring close to a fish farm. Up to now, that study has led to a better understanding of seasonal and bathymetric patterns in the microbenthic loop of P. oceanica. The most important result obtained is the existence of an important spatial heterogeneity at small scale in that ecosystem. This phenomenon must absolutely be taken into account in every study based on the sediment in P. oceanica meadows. [less ▲]

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See detailFish farm impacts on Posidonia oceanica meadows: interest of the microbenthic loop.
Pete, Dorothée ULg; Velimirov, Branko; Bouquegneau, Jean-Marie ULg et al

Poster (2009, January)

Posidonia oceanica, the seagrass endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, is a valuable tool to assess the environmental quality in coastal zones. However, only few studies have attempted to use characteristics ... [more ▼]

Posidonia oceanica, the seagrass endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, is a valuable tool to assess the environmental quality in coastal zones. However, only few studies have attempted to use characteristics of its sediment compartment as an indicator of environmental perturbations. In this study, the impact of a fish farm on the microbenthic loop (organic matter, bacteria, microphytobenthos and meiofauna) of P. oceanica meadows will be described. Samples were taken under an aquaculture situated in Calvi Bay (Corsica, France) at a depth of 22 m, in March and June 2008. The control site was the meadow situated in front of the research station STARESO (Calvi Bay, Corsica, France), sampled at the same periods and depth. Results concerning bacteria, microphytobenthos and organic matter will be presented here. For both seasons, differences between sites exist. For example, biomasses of organic matter, microphytobenthos and bacteria are higher in the fish farm than in the control site, indicating that the microbenthic loop has potential to be a good early indicator of pollution in this sea. [less ▲]

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See detailSpatial heterogeneity at small scale in the microbenthic loop of Posidonia oceanica meadows
Pete, Dorothée ULg; Lenartz, Fabian ULg; Velimirov, Branko et al

Conference (2008, October)

In the Mediterranean coastal zone, one the most important ecosystem is the Posidonia oceanica meadow. This seagrass is endemic of the Mediterranean Sea and plays many important ecological roles like ... [more ▼]

In the Mediterranean coastal zone, one the most important ecosystem is the Posidonia oceanica meadow. This seagrass is endemic of the Mediterranean Sea and plays many important ecological roles like oxygen production, nursery for numerous commercial species of fishes and protection of coastal zones by reducing the impact of waves. However, there is a severe lack of informations on small scale variations in its sediment compartment. In an attempt to understand spatial variations in the microbenthic loop (bacteria, organic matter, microphytobenthos and meiofauna) of this ecosystem, an experiment was led in Calvi Bay (Corsica, France), in March 2008, at 10 m depth. Twelve points were sampled randomly in a 125 x 125 cm grid, divided into twenty-five 25 x 25 cm squares, to assess and describe the spatial distribution and variations of different parameters of the sediment. Those parameters are granulometry, density of the P. oceanica meadow, nutrients concentration in pore water, bacteria (biomass, abundance, morphotypes), organic matter (biomass), microphytobenthos (biomass), roots and rhizomes (biomass) and meiofauna (biomass). Distribution maps were produced using the DIVA (Data-Interpolating Variational Analysis) method. Our results prove that the sediment compartment is highly heterogeneous at small scale, especially for bacteria and in the first centimeter of sediment cores. Moreover, a correlation has been established between microphytobenhtos variations and phosphate concentration in pore water. For the first time, such small scale variations are depicted in a P. oceanica meadow, which underlines the importance to take them into account in sampling strategies. [less ▲]

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See detailImportance of the microbenthic loop of Posidonia oceanica meadows to detect anthropogenic perturbations early: first results
Pete, Dorothée ULg; Velimirov, Branko; Bouquegneau, Jean-Marie ULg et al

Conference (2008, August)

It was demonstrated that Posidonia oceanica, the marine magnoliophyte endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, is a valuable tool to assess environmental qualities of the coastal zones. However, only few studies ... [more ▼]

It was demonstrated that Posidonia oceanica, the marine magnoliophyte endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, is a valuable tool to assess environmental qualities of the coastal zones. However, only few studies have attempted to use characteristics of its sediment compartment as an indicator of the environment state of health. Yet, organisms living in this compartment have a turnover which is faster than for canopy-organisms which makes them useful as valid early descriptors of pollution. The study described here takes place in a project which aims to find an early holistic indicator of anthropogenic perturbations in the Mediterranean coastal zones. The investigation is based on the microbenthic loop (organic matter, bacteria, microphytobenthos and meiofauna) and was led in two different sites of Calvi Bay (Corsica, France), at 10 m depth, in March and June 2007. Only results about bacteria (abundance, biomass, morphotypes), microphytobenthos (biomass) and organic matter (biomass) will be presented. For both seasons, significant differences between sites are found, irrespective on whether variables are treated separately or together, thus indicating that the microbenthic loop has potential to be a good early indicator of pollution. [less ▲]

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See detailSmall scale variations in the microbenthic loop of Posidonia oceanica meadows: an experimental interpolation design.
Pete, Dorothée ULg; Lenartz, Fabian ULg; Velimirov, Branko et al

Poster (2008, August)

In the sediment compartment of Posidonia oceanica meadows, there is a severe lack of information on small scale variations. In an attempt to understand spatial variations of the microbenthic loop ... [more ▼]

In the sediment compartment of Posidonia oceanica meadows, there is a severe lack of information on small scale variations. In an attempt to understand spatial variations of the microbenthic loop (bacteria, organic matter, microphytobenthos and meiofauna), an experiment based on interpolation methods was led in Calvi Bay (Corsica, France), in March 2008, at 10 m depth. Twelve points were sampled randomly in a 125 x 125 cm square, divided into twenty-five 25 x 25 cm squares, to assess and describe the spatial distribution and variations of different parameters of the sediment. Those parameters are granulometry, density of P. oceanica, concentration in nutrients in the pore water, bacteria (biomass, abundance, morphotypes), organic matter (biomass), microphytobenthos (biomass), roots and rhizomes (biomass) and meiofauna (biomass). Results and distribution maps of the respective sediment parameters will be presented for the first time. [less ▲]

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See detailDynamics of organic and inorganic carbon across contiguous mangrove and seagrass systems (Gazi bay, Kenya)
Bouillon, Steven; Dehairs, Frank; Velimirov, Branko et al

in Journal of Geophysical Research. Biogeosciences (2007), 112(G02018),

We report on the water column biogeochemistry in adjacent mangrove and seagrass systems in Gazi Bay (Kenya), with a focus on assessing the sources and cycling of organic and inorganic carbon. Mangrove and ... [more ▼]

We report on the water column biogeochemistry in adjacent mangrove and seagrass systems in Gazi Bay (Kenya), with a focus on assessing the sources and cycling of organic and inorganic carbon. Mangrove and seagrass-derived material was found to be the dominant organic carbon sources in the water column, and could be distinguished on the basis of their d13C signatures and particulate organic carbon:total suspended matter (POC/TSM) ratios. Spatially, a distinct boundary existed whereby the dominance of mangrove-derived material decreased sharply close to the interface between the mangrove forest and the dense seagrass beds. The latter is consistent with the reported export of mangrove-derived material, which is efficiently trapped in the adjacent seagrass beds. There were significant net inputs of POC and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) along the Kidogoweni salinity gradient, for which the d13CPOC signatures were consistent with those of mangroves. DOC was the dominant form of organic carbon in both mangrove and seagrass beds, with DOC/POC ratios typically between 3 and 15. Dynamics of dissolved inorganic carbon in the creeks were strongly influenced by diagenetic C degradation in the intertidal mangrove areas, resulting in significant CO2 emission from the water column to the atmosphere. Although highest partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) values and areal CO2 flux rates were observed in the mangrove creeks, and the water column above the seagrass beds was in some locations a net sink of CO2, most of the ecosystems’ emission of CO2 to the atmosphere occurred in the seagrass beds adjacent to the mangrove forest. The presence of dense seagrass beds thus had a strong effect on the aquatic biogeochemistry, and resulted in trapping and further mineralization of mangrove-derived POC, intense O2 production and CO2 uptake. The adjacent seagrass beds provide a large area with conditions favorable to exchange of CO2 with the atmosphere, thereby limiting export of mangrove-derived organic and inorganic carbon toward the coastal ocean. [less ▲]

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See detailInorganic and organic carbon biogeochemistry in the Gautami Godavari estuary (Andhra Pradesh, India) during pre-monsoon : the local impact of extensive mangrove forests
Bouillon, Steven; Frankignoulle, Michel; Dehairs, Frank et al

in Global Biogeochemical Cycles (2003), 17(4),

[1] The distribution and sources of organic and inorganic carbon were studied in the Gautami Godavari estuary (Andhra Pradesh, India) and in a mangrove ecosystem in its delta during pre-monsoon. In the ... [more ▼]

[1] The distribution and sources of organic and inorganic carbon were studied in the Gautami Godavari estuary (Andhra Pradesh, India) and in a mangrove ecosystem in its delta during pre-monsoon. In the oligohaline and mesohaline section (salinity 0–15) of the estuary, internal production of total alkalinity (TAlk) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) was recorded, and the d13CDIC profile suggests that carbonate dissolution may be an important process determining the DIC dynamics in this section of the Godavari. The partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) was fairly low along the entire salinity gradient, (293–500 ppm), but much higher and more variable (1375–6437 ppm) in the network of tidal mangrove creeks in the delta. Here, variations in the concentration and d13C of the DIC pool were shown to result largely from the mineralization of organic matter. The present study clearly identifies the mangrove creeks as an active site of mineralization and CO2 efflux to the atmosphere, but shows that these changes in the aquatic biogeochemistry are a localized feature, rapidly fading in the adjacent Kakinada Bay. Our data indicate that mineralization of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) of mangrove origin, and its subsequent efflux as CO2 to the atmosphere may represent an important fate for mangrove carbon. Although further quantification of this process in a variety of systems is required, we suggest that some of the current ideas on the role of mangroves in the carbon budget of the coastal zone may need to be reconsidered. [less ▲]

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