We propose an empirical framework to scale the effects of bioturbation on sediment resuspension to population bioturbation activity, approximated as population metabolic rate. Individual metabolic rates have been estimated as functions of body size and extrapolated to population level. We used experimental flumes to test this approach across different types of marine, soft-sediment bioturbators. We observed that a large part of the variance in biota-mediated sediment resuspension can be explained by a positive relationship with population metabolic rate. Other mechanisms can strongly influence the outcome, such as bioturbation of deep sediment strata, biotic interactions with hydrodynamic stress and overlapping areas of influence must be further investigated. By relating the biota-mediated changes in resuspended sediment to metabolism, we can place our observations within the broader context of the metabolic theory of ecology and to formulate general expectations about changes in biota-mediated sediment resuspension in response to changes in population structure and climate change.
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