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Home | Tampa Bay Study | Data | Ghost Shrimp

This page is archived and is no longer being maintained. Content was last updated in 2015. For current research, visit http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/.
Tampa Bay Study | Data | Task 2: Water & Sediment Quality - Biogeochemical Cycles | Ghost Shrimp
One large group of benthic organisms which influence the abiotic component of their environment are thalassinideans (mud or ghost shrimp), also known as “ecosystem engineers.” Ghost shrimp maintain large burrow systems that increase the surface area of the sediment/water interface. They are also filter-feeders (also know as suspension-feeders); they actively pump large amounts of water in and out of their burrows to obtain food. These activities move large amounts of sediment around and increase fluxes between the water column and the sediment. The movement of water and sediment by ghost shrimp was found to have a direct effect on levels and distribution of contaminants in sediment.

In this investigation, measurements of zinc (Zn) and cadmium (Cd) were taken from bottom surface sediment, ghost shrimp burrow walls, and the sediment ejected by ghost shrimp from their burrows at five intertidal sites within Tampa Bay. Ghost shrimp burrow walls and the ejected sediment had higher levels of Zn and Cd than the nearby bottom sediments. These results indicated that Ghost shrimp have an influence on the distribution of contaminants in the sediment.

What is an “ecosystem engineer”?

An ecosystem engineer is any organism that creates, modifies or maintains its environment. Although many organisms affect the environment in a physical way, ecologists reserve the term “ecosystem engineer” for those organisms that very strongly affect their environment and other organisms.

Ghost Shrimp Burrow
Sampling Sites in Tampa Bay

Ghost Shrimp Burrow Sampling Sites in Tampa Bay

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DATA SETS:

Effects of Ghost Shrimp on zinc and cadmium in sediments from Tampa Bay, Florida (metadata)

These data sets are in ArcGIS Shapefile format. To view these files, you must have ESRI ArcGIS Software or other GIS software. A freely available lightweight version of ESRI's software is ArcGIS Explorer.

RELATED PRODUCTS:

USGS Open-File Report 2005-1015, January 2005: The Impact of Groundwater and Contaminants on Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay studies in biogeochemical cycles are presented in a special volume of Marine Chemistry - an international journal for studies of all chemical aspects of the marine environment.

REFEREED PUBLICATIONS:

Klerks, P.L., D.L. Felder, K. Strasser, and P.W. Swarzenski. 2007. Effects of ghost shrimp on zinc and cadmium in sediments from Tampa Bay, Florida. Marine Chemistry 104 (1-2) : 17-26.


U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Gulf of Mexico Integrated Science
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