Do Marine Pests Affect Bay Nutrient Cycling?
The EMP’s nutrient program focuses on reducing Bay nitrogen loads, which were highlighted by the Port Phillip Bay Environmental Study as a particular threat to the Bay’s nitrogen cycling processes. These processes are crucial for converting nitrogen delivered to the Bay to nitrogen gas. It is possible that some of the marine pest species already living in the Bay could also threaten nitrogen cycling, perhaps interacting with effects of nitrogen inputs. The pests could, for example, affect the native infaunal species that are important to key nitrogen cycling steps, called denitrification, within the Bay’s sediments. To assess whether such effects actually do occur, a three year research project called “Building Effects of Marine Pests into Nutrient Management Strategies” began in June 2002. The project has funding support from the Australian Research Council and involves collaborative research between the University of Melbourne (by Assoc Prof Michael Keough and Jeff Ross), the Marine