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Sediment-benthos relationships as a tool to assist in conservation practices in a coastal lagoon subjected to sediment change
Van Colen, C.; Verbelen, D.; Devos, K.; Agten, L.; Van Tomme, J.; Vincx, M.; Degraer, S. (2014). Sediment-benthos relationships as a tool to assist in conservation practices in a coastal lagoon subjected to sediment change. Biodivers. Conserv. 23(4): 877-889. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10531-014-0638-1
In: Biodiversity and Conservation. Kluwer Academic Publishers/Springer: London. ISSN 0960-3115, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 255697 [ OMA ]

Keywords
    Coastal lagoons; Macrobenthos; ANE, Belgium, Zwin [Marine Regions]; Marine
Author keywords
    Sand deposition; Ecological cascade; Integrated coastal zone management

Authors  Top 
  • Van Colen, C., more
  • Verbelen, D., more
  • Devos, K., more
  • Agten, L.

Abstract
    This study explores the relation between sediment composition and intertidal macrobenthos populations in the Zwin nature reserve (Belgium and The Netherlands), a tidal lagoon that is included in the Ramsar list of wetlands of international importance and has been designated as Natura 2000 area, among others due to its function as wintering habitat for shorebirds that feed upon macrobenthic invertebrates. Species response models show highest biomass of these prey species in organically enriched cohesive sediments and a distinct decline in probability of occurrence for most species in coarse sediments. Further, the biomass of macrobenthos declined between 2003 and 2010 in the extensive low intertidal inlet channel concurrent with the coarsening of the sediment over time in this hydrodynamically stressed habitat. In contrast, macrobenthos biomass increased in a sheltered shallow intertidal habitat that acted as a catchment area for finer sediments, therefore facilitating the succession towards a higher elevated habitat with salt marsh vegetation establishment. Hence, spatio-temporal sediment dynamics decreased site quality for intertidal predators due to a reduction in feeding areas over time, and a change in physical sediment properties that alter the macrobenthos species occurrence and population biomass. This study thus illustrates that sediment transport dynamics may affect the functioning of coastal shallow soft-sediment habitats, like coastal lagoons. The presented macrobenthos species response models provide a tool to assist in management actions that enable the conservation of cohesive low intertidal habitats that provide a high food supply to shorebirds, fish and macrocrustaceans.

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