An "Integrated Sediment Disturber" (ISD) to study the impact of repeated physical perturbations on sediment geochemistry and the small benthic biota

Thomas Soltwedel, Bruno Lansard, Franck Gilbert, Christiane Hasemann, Elanor Bell, Burkhard Sablotny, Matthew Eagle, Peter Kershaw,Christophe Rabouille

Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 6:307-318 (2008) | DOI: 10.4319/lom.2008.6.307

ABSTRACT: An Integrated Sediment Disturber (ISD) was developed to study the effects of repeated physical disturbances on sediment geochemistry and associated benthic fauna. The ISD is capable to generate a strong, more or less uniform mixing of surface sediments by three rotating fork-like disturber units of approximately 1 m in diameter. Perturbations can be set at different intensities and frequencies, e.g., on times scales of hours, days, or weeks, depending on the experimental design. The ISD carries an Autonomous Positioning Drive (APD) module, which allows the three-dimensional positioning of sensors by a programmable controller. The three circular disturbed zones and an undisturbed control area in-between can be monitored at specified frequencies using a microprofiler with microelectrodes for measuring various parameters (e.g., oxygen, pH, hydrogen sulphide). All operations are supervised by a digital stills camera. Sediment sampling at the start and end point using coring devices handled by divers (and potentially undertaken using a Remotely Operated Vehicle) provides material to study shifts in biodiversity of the small sediment-inhabiting biota and alterations in ecosystem functioning in response to perturbations and the changing geochemical characteristics of surface sediments.