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Spatial distribution of Alitta virens burrows in intertidal sediments studied by axial tomodensitometry

  • Flora Salvo (a1), Suzanne C. Dufour (a1), Philippe Archambault (a1), Georges Stora (a2) and Gaston Desrosiers (a1)...


Relationships between sediment characteristics and the spatial organization of biogenic structures remain poorly understood, albeit important for characterizing bioturbation impacts and small-scale ecological patterns. Using axial tomodensitometry (CT-scan) and core sectioning, we studied the spatial distribution of Alitta virens burrows in sediment cores from two mudflats with different degrees of exposure along the St Lawrence Estuary, Canada. A variety of burrow morphologies was observed at both sites, with most being I-shaped. Most values measured (organic matter content, mean tomographic intensity, the number and diameter of burrow shafts and the percentage of space they occupy per transverse section) covaried with depth. The more sheltered site had higher organic matter and mud contents, and lower average tomographic intensity values. The spatial distribution of burrow shafts also differed between sites, with the more sheltered site having a higher number of burrow shafts and percentage of biogenic space in the upper sediment column, as well as a greater volume of biogenic structures that were connected to the surface (although intra-site variability was great). Along the horizontal plane and at various depths within sediments, burrow shafts were more randomly distributed at the exposed site, compared to a more even, maximal spacing at the sheltered site. In addition to finding differences in burrow organization at two spatial scales, we found significant correlations between tomographic intensity and (1) the number of burrow shafts, (2) biogenic space and (3) organic matter content. CT-scan data, including tomographic intensity, are useful for examining and comparing biogenic structures in sediment cores.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: S.C. Dufour, Department of Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, NL Canada A1B 3X9 email:


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Spatial distribution of Alitta virens burrows in intertidal sediments studied by axial tomodensitometry

  • Flora Salvo (a1), Suzanne C. Dufour (a1), Philippe Archambault (a1), Georges Stora (a2) and Gaston Desrosiers (a1)...


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