Declining maerl vitality and habitat complexity across a dredging gradient: Insights from in situ sediment profile imagery (SPI)
|Author(s)||Bernard Guillaume1, Romero-Ramirez Alicia2, Tauran Adeline2, 3, Pantalos Michael3, Deflandre Bruno2, Grall Jacques3, Gremare Antoine2|
|Affiliation(s)||1 : CNRS, UMR 5805, EPOC, F-33615 Pessac, France.
2 : Univ Bordeaux, EPOC, UMR 5805, F-33615 Pessac, France.
3 : UBO, IUEM, UMS 3113, Brest, France.
|Source||Scientific Reports (2045-2322) (Nature Publishing Group), 2019-11 , Vol. 9 , P. 16463 (12p.)|
|WOS© Times Cited||19|
Maerl beds form complex biogenic benthic habitats, characterized by high productivity as well as diverse biological communities. Disturbances associated with extraction and/or fishing activities using mobile bottom-contacting gears such as clam-dredges induce the most severe and long-term effects on these fragile habitats. We here investigated the effects of dredge-fishing on maerl in the bay of Brest (France). We quantified maerl beds structure and vitality across a fine scale quantified dredging intensity gradient through the acquisition of in-situ images of beds cross-section using Sediment Profile Imaging system (SPI). Declines in the proxies of maerl vitality and habitat complexity were measured across the gradient, and were associated with significant changes in the vertical distribution of live and dead maerl as well as of interstitial space. Fishing with dredges caused maerl mortality, substratum compaction, and decreasing habitat complexity. SPI imaging techniques also allowed for an assessment of changes in spatial heterogeneity that dredging created on several aspects of the structure and vitality of maerl beds. It suggests that direct and indirect disturbances induced by dredging are not acting at the same spatial scale, and can thereby differentially affect the ecosystem functions linked to vitality and habitat complexity.