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Surf zone hyperbenthos of Belgian sandy beaches: seasonal patterns
Beyst, B.; Buysse, D.; Dewicke, A.; Mees, J. (2001). Surf zone hyperbenthos of Belgian sandy beaches: seasonal patterns. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 53(6): 877-895. dx.doi.org/10.1006/ecss.2001.0808
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
Author keywords
    surf zone; nursery; hyperbenthos; Mysidacea; ichthyoplankton; North Sea

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Abstract
    Since surf zone hyperbenthos, although highly important in local food webs, has often been neglected and very little information is available, a survey of the Belgian sandy beaches was carried out from May 1996 until July 1997. Monthly samples were taken to give a complete record of hyperbenthic organisms occurring in the surf zone of Belgian sandy beaches and to evaluate the intensity by which this surf zone is used. In total 172 species were recorded. The number of species occurring in the surf zone is comparable to that of adjacent areas. As weIl as true hyperbenthic species, endobenthic and planktonic organisms were sampled. More than 75% of the average total sample composition consisted of mysids, mainly Mesopodopsis slabberi, Schistomysis spiritus and Schistomysis kervillei (holohyperbenthos). Apart from several resident species, active and passive seasonal migration towards the surf zone by a number of species is suggested. A large number of sporadic species adds to the composition of surf zone hyperbenthos. Within the merohyperbenthos, postlarval decapods and fish were the dominant organisms. During the year three recruitment peaks were observed. Average densities per month exceeded 1500 ind. 100 m-2. Yearly biomass averages ranged from 300 to over 3000 mg ADW 100 m-2. Densities of the common species are slightly higher in the surf zone than in other habitats, emphasising the importance of the area. Besides a possible nursery function, the surf zone may also be used as a transient area between different habitats. Finally, the influence of several abiotic factors on the hyperbenthic assemblages was evaluated. The main structuring variables determining the occurrence of most of the organisms are water temperature and hydrodynamic factors such as wave height and turbidity. The influence of wave height seems to be two-fold: several good swimmers such as mysids and some fish species are suggested to be able to actively avoid severe wave conditions, whereas other, more planktonic organisms, are passively transported towards the area if wave height increases.

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