Multiscale patterns in the diversity and organization of benthic intertidal fauna among French Atlantic estuaries

TitleMultiscale patterns in the diversity and organization of benthic intertidal fauna among French Atlantic estuaries
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsBlanchet, H, Gouillieux, B, Alizier, S, Amouroux, J-M, Bachelet, G, Barillé, A-L, Dauvin, J-C, de Montaudouin, X, Derolez, V, Desroy, N, Grall, J, Grémare, A, Hacquebart, P, Jourde, J, Labrune, C, Lavesque, N, Meirland, A, Nebout, T, Olivier, F, Pelaprat, C, Ruellet, T, Sauriau, P-G, Thorin, S
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Pagination95 - 110
Date Published07/2014
KeywordsDiversity, Estuaries, Macrozoobenthos, Structuring Factors, WFD

Based on a parallel sampling conducted during autumn 2008, a comparative study of the intertidal benthic macrofauna among 10 estuarine systems located along the Channel and Atlantic coasts of France was performed in order to assess the level of fauna similarity among these sites and to identify possible environmental factors involved in the observed pattern at both large (among sites) and smaller (benthic assemblages) scales. More precisely this study focused on unraveling the observed pattern of intertidal benthic fauna composition and diversity observed at among-site scale by exploring both biotic and abiotic factors acting at the among- and within-site scales. Results showed a limited level of similarity at the among-site level in terms of intertidal benthic fauna composition and diversity. The observed pattern did not fit with existing transitional water classification methods based on fish or benthic assemblages developed in the frame of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). More particularly, the coastal plain estuaries displayed higher among-site similarity compared to ria systems. These coastal plain estuaries were characterized by higher influence of river discharge, lower communication with the ocean and high suspended particulate matter levels. On the other hand, the ria-type systems were more dissimilar and different from the coastal plain estuaries. The level of similarity among estuaries was mainly linked to the relative extent of the intertidal “Scrobicularia plana–Cerastoderma edule” and “Tellina tenuis” or “Venus” communities as a possible consequence of salinity regime, suspended matter concentrations and fine particles supply with consequences on the trophic functioning, structure and organization of benthic fauna. Despite biogeographical patterns, the results also suggest that, in the context of the WFD, these estuaries should only be compared on the basis of the most common intertidal habitat occurring throughout all estuarine systems and that the \{EUNIS\} biotope classification might be used for this purpose. In addition, an original inverse relation between γ-diversity and area was shown; however, its relevance might be questioned.