A huge tsunami is one of the greatest disturbance events in coastal benthic communities, although the ecological consequences are not fully understood. Here we examined the tsunami- induced changes in the sediment environment and macrozoobenthic assemblage in a eutrophic brackish lagoon in eastern Japan. The 7.2-m-high tsunami completely replaced muddy sediment with drifting sea sand throughout the lagoon, leading to the drastic changes in quantity and quality of sedimental organic matters, sulfide contents, and sediment redox condition. Intensive physical stress devastated the benthic community, but the disappearance of sulfidic muddy bottoms significantly improved the habitat quality for macrozoobenthos. The re-established macrozoobenthic community after 5 months was characterized by (1) a 2-fold higher total density, but sharp declines in species richness, diversity, and evenness; (2) an increased density of opportunistic taxa (e.g., polychaete Pseudopolydora spp. and amphipod Monocorophium uenoi) in newly created sandy bottoms; and (3) disappearance of several dominant taxa including bivalves and chironomid larvae. These findings indicate that the sensitivity and recovery potential of macrozoobenthos were highly taxa-specific, which was closely related to the taxa's ecological characteristics, including tolerance to physical disturbance, life-history traits, and life form. Our data revealed the rapid recolonization of opportunistic macrozoobenthos after a huge tsunami, which would contribute to the functional recovery of estuarine soft-bottom habitats shortly after a disturbance event.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)