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Restored oyster reefs may promote denitrification (i.e., anaerobic respiration of nitrate to dinitrogen gas, N2), via benthic deposition of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N)-rich wastes (biodeposits). This has not been measured in eutrophic ecosystems, where denitrification is a potential oyster-mediated ecosystem service. We tested oysters' influence on sediment C and N dynamics in eutrophic conditions. Oysters increased sediment organic C at three of four study sites. Oysters did not affect sediment N transformations, likely because none were driven primarily by C availability. The article presents a diagram to illustrate the context dependence of oysters' role in sediment N dynamics in oligotrophic and eutrophic ecosystems.
These photographs illustrate the article “Effect of eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) on sediment carbon and nitrogen dynamics in an urban estuary” by Timothy J. Hoellein and Chester B. Zarnoch, tentatively scheduled to appear in Ecological Applications 24(2), March 2014. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/12-1798.1