To clarify the effects of crab burrows on variation in sediment CO2 flux in mangrove forest, we measured the traits of crab burrows (density and entrance area size) and the CO2 flux rate from sediment surfaces, in areas with and without burrows, in a subtropical mangrove forest on Ishigaki Island, southwestern Japan. Burrow density and entrance area showed significant differences among seasons (warm, middle, and cool) and mangrove zones (upper-, middle-, and downstream), which may have depended on crab phenology, life cycle, and species composition. The sediment CO2 flux rate was significantly higher at plots with crab burrows (B+) than at those without burrows (B−) in each zone and season. However, standardized sediment CO2 flux rate by burrow surface area at B+ plots did not differ significantly from that at B− plots. In addition, there were no significant differences in sediment temperature and sediment water content between the two types of plots. Moreover, the level of microbial respiration differed significantly between sediments collected from the deep part and those collected from either the ground surface part or burrow walls. These results suggest that crab burrows increase sediment CO2 flux from the mangrove forest floor by increasing the sediment–atmosphere interface area, thereby inducing a change to aerobic conditions in the sediments around burrows. Therefore, the seasonal and spatial effect of crab burrows on the forest floor should be considered when evaluating sediment CO2 flux and examining the role of the mangrove ecosystem as a carbon sink.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science