Regulating Services of Bivalve Molluscs in the Context of the Carbon Cycle and Implications for Ecosystem Valuation
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The role of marine bivalves in the CO2 cycle has been commonly evaluated as the balance between respiration, shell calcium carbonate sequestration, and CO2 release during biogenic calcification; however, this individual-based approach neglects important ecosystem interactions that occur at the population level, e.g. the interaction with phytoplankton populations and benthic-pelagic coupling, which in turn can significantly alter the CO2 cycle. Therefore, an ecosystem approach that accounts for the trophic interactions of bivalves, including the role of dissolved and particulate organic and inorganic carbon cycling, is needed to provide a rigorous assessment of the role of bivalves as a potential sink of CO2. Conversely, the discussion about this potential role needs to be framed in the context of non-harvested vs. harvested populations, given that harvesting represents a net extraction of matter from the ocean. Accordingly, this chapter describes the main processes that affect CO2 cycling and discuss the role of non-harvested and harvested bivalves in the context of sequestering carbon. A budget for deep-fjord waters is presented as a case study.