Variability of fresh- and salt-water marshes characteristics on the west coast of France: A spatio-temporal assessment

Abstract : The degradation of water quality and the multiple conflicts of interest between users make marsh restoration very important. A Water Quality Evaluation System (WQES) was developed for river systems by the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). Some form of biologically-based, habitat-specific reference standard seems absolutely essential for wise management and stewardship of marsh ecosystems. The goal of this study was to develop a statistical method to define and to characterize a water body typology for drained marshes of the Charente-Maritime wetlands on the French Atlantic coast, placing particular emphasis on environmental factors as hydraulic functioning, human activities and pedological substratum. The Charente-Maritime marshes represent a good field study because of his high diversity of types of marshes and of anthropogenic activities in a restrictive area thus erasing spatial climatic effect (latitude effect). The statistical method developed here had permitted to define and characterize 12 different water bodies, 7 in freshwater (F1 to F7) and 5 in salt water marshes for the Charente-Maritime area. This typology demonstrated an important link between the size catchment area, nitrate concentrations, and leaching of precipitation from cultured soils. Even though the Charente-Maritime marshes are strongly impacted by humans, they may still retain the ability to remove nitrate. The increasing gradient of water renewal in the freshwater marshes from F1 to F7 explained the decreasing gradient of eutrophication. A better management of the hydrodynamic of the marshes can avoid eutrophication risk on the coastal sea area. Reliance on the WFD parameter set necessarily placed limits on the kinds of interpretations that could be made and on the study's potential contribution to the basic science of marshes. Ecologically-based insights regarding both external flows (links between ecosystems, meta-ecosystem theory) and internal flows (structure of the planktonic food web) seem an essential prerequisite for further advances in the study of marsh ecosystems.
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Sébastien Tortajada, Valérie David, Amel Brahmia, Dupuy Christine, Thomas Laniesse, et al.. Variability of fresh- and salt-water marshes characteristics on the west coast of France: A spatio-temporal assessment. Water Research, IWA Publishing, 2011, 45, pp.4152 - 4168. ⟨10.1016/j.watres.2011.05.024⟩. ⟨hal-01420109⟩

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