Influence of stability and fragmentation of a worm-reef on benthic macrofauna

Abstract : In coastal areas, reef-builder worms often are bio-engineers by structuring their physical and biological environment. Many studies showed that this engineering role is determined by the densities of the engineer species itself, the highest densities approximately corresponding to the most stable areas from a sedimentological point of view, and hosting the richest and the most diverse benthic fauna. Here, we tested the potential influence of the spatio-temporal dynamics and the spatial fragmentation of one of the largest European intertidal reefs generated by the marine worm Lanice conchilega (Pallas, 1766) (Annelida, Polychaeta) on the associated benthic macrofauna. We demonstrated that the worm densities do have a significant positive role on the abundance, biomass, species richness and species diversity of the benthic macrofauna and that the reef stability also significantly influences the biomass and species diversity. Moreover, the reef fragmentation has significant negative effects on the abundance, biomass and species richness. In addition to L. conchilega densities, the stability and the spatial fragmentation of the reef also significantly structure the associated benthic assemblages. This study demonstrates the interest of "benthoscape ecology" in understanding the role played by marine engineer species from a spatial point of view.
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Submitted on : Monday, August 29, 2011 - 12:28:09 PM
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Laurent Godet, Jérôme Fournier, Mikaël Jaffré, Nicolas Desroy. Influence of stability and fragmentation of a worm-reef on benthic macrofauna. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, Elsevier, 2011, 92, pp.472-479. ⟨10.1016/j.ecss.2011.02.003⟩. ⟨hal-00617501⟩

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