Mapping marine ecosystem services in a multifunctional seascape: the case of Grande Vasière (Bay of Biscay)

IntroductionCoastal and continental shelf ecosystems are among the most productive, yet exploited, ecosystems. The Grande Vasière (GV) covers most part of the French Northern part of the Bay of Biscay, a crucial fishing ground for metropolitan France. It is the place of numerous uses, especially fishing, and will soon shelter sand extraction activities and offshore windfarms. All these activities may compete for space and resources and put pressure on habitats, biodiversity and subsequent ecosystem services (ES). Current management strategies integrate these activities and biodiversity conservation schemes but no ES. MethodsTo fill that gap, we quantified and mapped nine indicators of ecosystem processes (EP), used as proxies of four ES (i.e. sea food provisioning, biological control, regulation of environmental conditions and life cycle maintenance). Due to the complexity of ES, we investigated several EP by ES. Then we identified hotspots and coldspots of supply and spatial overlap among EP and other uses (conservation, fishing, offshore windfarms and sand extraction). ResultsEP mapping suggests a higher capacity of supply of the chosen ES in the Northern part of the GV. We found a strong spatial heterogeneity among the EP related to the same ES, underlining a point of vigilance when designing management measures to sustain ES supply. Northern EP hotspots overlap with high amounts of bottom trawl fishing effort. Higher levels of commercial species diversity and sole spawning grounds in the South overlap with higher amounts of gillnet fishing effort. Areas of sand extraction prospection and offshore windfarms under construction should not overlap with hotspots of EP, at the exception of the sole spawning ground and the commercial species diversity hotspots. Finally, we highlight an overlap of more than 20% of four EP hotspots with Natura 2000 areas, while the Marine Natural Park in the South covers more EP coldspots (i.e. hake nursery, encounter rate, trophic links diversity) than hotspots. DiscussionIncorporating such a multifunctional spatial approach with hotspots and coldspots opens new perspective for marine spatial planning, pointing out the potential strengths and weaknesses of areas currently defined or prioritized for future uses like conservation, sand extraction or emerging activities like offshore windfarms.


ecosystem services, marine spatial planning, conservation, offshore windfarm, sand extraction, fisheries, Atlantic Ocean

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Lavialle Gaël, Boussarie Germain, Kopp Dorothee, Morfin Marie, Mouchet Maud A. (2023). Mapping marine ecosystem services in a multifunctional seascape: the case of Grande Vasière (Bay of Biscay). Frontiers In Marine Science. 10. 1110299 (16p.).,

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