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Are growth and density quantitative indicators of essential fish habitat quality? An application to the common sole Solea solea nursery grounds
Gilliers, C.; Le Pape, O.; Desaunay, Y.; Morin, J.; Guerault, D.; Amara, R. (2006). Are growth and density quantitative indicators of essential fish habitat quality? An application to the common sole Solea solea nursery grounds. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 69(1-2): 96-106. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.ecss.2006.02.006
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714; e-ISSN 1096-0015, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    quantitative bio-indicators; essential fish habitat quality; flatfish juvenile

Authors  Top 
  • Gilliers, C.
  • Le Pape, O.
  • Desaunay, Y.
  • Morin, J.
  • Guerault, D.
  • Amara, R., more

Abstract
    Bio-indicators were measured on juvenile fish to assess the quality of eight coastal and estuarine nursery grounds in the Eastern English Channel and in the Bay of Biscay during 3 years. Growth (size and otolith daily increment width), body condition (morphometric index) and abundance of juvenile common soles were analysed together with xenobiotic concentrations (heavy metals and organic contaminants). Condition indices displayed important variations and did not allow relevant estimation of environmental quality. On the contrary, growth and density indicators showed good steadiness above years but varied among sites. In spite of difficulties of interpreting these indicators on such a meso-scale approach, analyses highlighted the estuaries of Seine and Gironde. In these nursery areas, the levels of contamination were especially high, and the combination of fish growth performances and density was significantly lower than in other sites. The combination of these variables appears to provide reliable indicators of habitat quality and anthropogenic pressure on nursery grounds, especially highlighting contaminated areas. Such indicators may thus contribute to improve assessment of environmental quality of essential fish habitats with the aim of a sustainable management of fisheries resources. A study at a different scale, from this meso-scale nursery approach with more precise analyses, on local habitats, will nevertheless be necessary to optimize the relevance of these indicators for the assessment of essential fish habitat quality.

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