Impact of Oyster Farming on Diagenetic Processes and the Phosphorus Cycle in Two Estuaries (Britanny, France)

This study aims to compare the impact of oyster cultures on diagenetic processes and the phosphorus cycle in the sediments of the Aber Benoît and the Rivière d’Auray, estuary of Brittany, France. Our results showed clear evidence of the seasonal impact of oyster cultures on sediment characteristics (grain size, organic matter parameters), and the phosphorus cycle, especially in the Aber Benoît. At this site, seasonal variations of sulfide and Fe concentrations in pore waters, as well as Fe-P concentrations in the solid-phase highlighted a shift from a system governed by iron reduction (Reference) to a system governed by sulphate reduction (Beneath Oyster). This could be partly explained by the increase in labile organic matter (ie, biodeposits) beneath oysters, whose mineralization by sulfate led to high sulfide concentrations in pore waters (up to 4475 µmol l-1). In turn, sulfide caused an enhanced release of phosphate in the summer, as adsorption sites for phosphate decreased through the formation of iron sulfide compounds (FeS, FeS2). In the Aber Benoît, dissolved Fe/PO4 ratios could be used as an indicator of phosphate release into oxic water. Low Fe/PO4 ratios in the summer indicated higher effluxes of phosphate towards the water column (up to 47 µmol m-2 h-1). At other periods, Fe/PO4 ratios higher than 2 mol:mol indicated very low phosphate fluxes. In contrast, in the Rivière d’Auray, the occurrence of macroalgae stranding regularly all over the site, clearly masked the impact of oyster cultures on sediment properties and the phosphorus cycle and made the use of Fe/PO4 ratios more difficult in terms of indicators of phosphate release.


Sediment, Phosphorus, Sulfide, Dissolved Fe/P ratios, Labile organic matter, Oyster cultures

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Andrieux Francoise, Azandegbe Afi, Caradec Florian, Philippon Xavier, Kerouel Roger, Youenou Agnes, Nicolas Jean-Louis (2014). Impact of Oyster Farming on Diagenetic Processes and the Phosphorus Cycle in Two Estuaries (Britanny, France). Aquatic Geochemistry. 20 (6). 573-611.,

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