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Differential response of benthic macrofauna to the formation of novel oyster reefs (Crassostrea gigas, Thunberg) on soft and rocky substrate in the intertidal of the Bay of Brest, France

Abstract : When the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas, Thunberg) was introduced into France for aquaculture in the mid-sixties, it was initially confined to the sites where it was farmed. Subsequent global warming most likely facilitated the establishment of wild populations throughout the French coastline. This phenomenon of spread has become so great that oyster reefs have recently appeared in sheltered estuaries, on both soft and hard substrate. The present study examined two such sites in the Bay of Brest, Brittany. It is the first to investigate the impacts of this new substrate on the biocoenosis of uncolonised intertidal habitats in France. Increased species richness and abundance of intertidal macrofauna were observed in the presence of oyster reefs on both, mud (4 and 20 fold respectively) and rock (5 fold for both). The dominance of suspension feeders in mud changed to carnivores in reefs and their underlying sediment. Calculation of biotic coefficients (BC) of the soft-bottom fauna revealed only a slight organic enrichment, and the organic and silt composition in the sediment beneath oyster reefs were not significantly different from that on bare sites. On rock, the dominance of grazers remained unchanged between bare rock and oyster reef, while reef on rock was also characterised by deposit and detritic feeders. C. gigas is suspected to cause a homogenisation of coastal habitats with an impoverishment of overall quality but we detected only 11 common species between reefs on mud (60 species) and those on rock (55 species).
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Submitted on : Friday, April 26, 2013 - 10:11:25 AM
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Morgane Lejart, Christian Hily. Differential response of benthic macrofauna to the formation of novel oyster reefs (Crassostrea gigas, Thunberg) on soft and rocky substrate in the intertidal of the Bay of Brest, France. Journal of Sea Research, Elsevier, 2011, 65 (1), pp.84-93. ⟨10.1016/j.seares.2010.07.004⟩. ⟨hal-00818138⟩

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