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Volume 8, issue 2
Biogeosciences, 8, 339–352, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 8, 339–352, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 14 Feb 2011

Research article | 14 Feb 2011

Influence of bioturbation on the biogeochemistry of littoral sediments of an acidic post-mining pit lake

S. Lagauzère1,*, S. Moreira1, and M. Koschorreck1 S. Lagauzère et al.
  • 1UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Lake Research, Brückstrasse 3a, 39114 Magdeburg, Germany
  • *present address: University of Cologne, BioZentrum, Institute for Zoology, General Ecology and Limnology, Zülpicherstrasse 47b, 50674 Cologne, Germany

Abstract. In the last decades, the mining exploitation of large areas in Lusatia (Eastern Germany) but also in other mining areas worldwide has led to the formation of hundreds of pit lakes. Pyrite oxidation in the surrounding dumps makes many such lakes extremely acidic (pH < 3). The biogeochemical functioning of these lakes is mainly governed by cycling of iron. This represents a relevant ecological problem and intensive research has been conducted to understand the involved biogeochemical processes and develop bioremediation strategies. Despite some studies reporting the presence of living organisms (mostly bacteria, algae, and macro-invertebrates) under such acidic conditions, and their trophic interactions, their potential impact on the ecosystem functioning was poorly investigated. The present study aimed to assess the influence of chironomid larvae on oxygen dynamics and iron cycle in the sediment of acidic pit lakes. In the Mining Lake 111, used as a study case since 1996, Chironomus crassimanus (Insecta, Diptera) is the dominant benthic macro-invertebrate species and occurs at relatively high abundances in shallow water. A 16-day laboratory experiment using microcosms combined with high resolution measurements (DET gel probes and O2 microsensors) was carried out. The burrowing activity of C. crassimanus larvae induced a 3-fold increase of the diffusive oxygen uptake by sediment, indicating a stimulation of the mineralization of organic matter in the upper layers of the sediment. The iron cycle was also impacted (e.g. lower rates of reduction and oxidation, increase of iron-oxidizing bacteria abundance, stimulation of mineral formation) but with no significant effect on the iron flux at the sediment-water interface, and thus on the water acidity budget. This work provides the first assessment of bioturbation in an acidic mining lake and shows that its influence on biogeochemistry cannot be neglected.

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