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Effects of salinity on fish assemblage structure: An evaluation based on taxonomic and functional approaches in the Casamance estuary (Senegal, West Africa)

Abstract : The utility of taxonomic and functional approaches in assessing the structure of fish communities is tested in the hypersaline estuary of the Casamance river using data from surveys of commercial fisheries conducted between April and July of 2005. Both taxonomic and functional diversity decrease from downstream to upstream regions of the estuary. In terms of species composition, marine-estuarine species (33.3-46.3%, depending on the site) and estuarine species of marine origin (29.3-41.7%) dominate the exploited population in the Casamance estuary. In contrast, the proportion of strictly estuarine species observed upstream is twice that observed downstream. Quantitative analysis based on biomass landed distinguishes two groups in the population: (1) a group of species that is dominant downstream, containing primarily terminal predators and secondary consumers categorised as marine species that are occasional or accessory in estuaries, estuarine marine species, and estuarine species of marine origin; and (2) a group of species characteristic of the upstream region, dominated by a few species (Sarotherodon melanotheron, Tilapia guineensis, and Mugil cephalus) mainly of strictly estuarine and/or herbivorous categories and Elops lacerta, a carnivore fish. The outcomes of the two approaches are similar, and both indicate that the fish community in this estuary is under the influence of strong environmental disturbance. However, the scales at which the specific and functional approaches most reliably reflect environmental conditions are different. The taxonomic approach, i.e., the use of specific biomass is more appropriate at the ecosystem scale and therefore more accessible to local human communities, whereas the functional approach is better suited to regional and sub-regional studies because of the change in species composition from one environment to another.
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Submitted on : Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 10:17:36 AM
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Justin Kantoussan, Jean-Marc Ecoutin, Monique Simier, Luis Tito de Morais, Raymond Laë. Effects of salinity on fish assemblage structure: An evaluation based on taxonomic and functional approaches in the Casamance estuary (Senegal, West Africa). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, Elsevier, 2012, 113, pp.152-162. ⟨10.1016/j.ecss.2012.07.018⟩. ⟨hal-00767594⟩

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