Effects of bioirrigation of non-biting midges (Diptera: Chironomidae) on lake sediment respiration

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Bioirrigation or the transport of fluids into the sediment matrix due to the activities of organisms such as bloodworms (larvae of Diptera, Chironomidae), has substantial impacts on sediment respiration in lakes. However, previous quantifications of bioirrigation impacts of Chironomidae have been limited by technical challenges such as the difficulty to separate faunal and bacterial respiration. This paper describes a novel method based on the bioreactive tracer resazurin for measuring respiration in-situ in non-sealed systems with constant oxygen supply. Applying this new method in microcosm experiments revealed that bioirrigation enhanced sediment respiration by up to 2.5 times. The new method is yielding lower oxygen consumption than previously reported, as it is only sensitive to aerobic heterotrophous respiration and not to other processes causing oxygen decrease. Hence it decouples the quantification of respiration of animals and inorganic oxygen consumption from microbe respiration in sediment.


Original languageEnglish
Article number27329
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2016


  • Entomology, Element cycles, Freshwater ecology