Long-term changes in the sessile epifauna of the Dover Strait pebble community

Aurélie FOVEAU, Nicolas DESROY, Jean-Marie DEWARUMEZ, Jean-Claude DAUVIN, Louis CABIOCH

Abstract


Dover Strait, a biogeographical cross-road between English Channel and North Sea, supports many economic activities, (e.g., maritime traffic as well as fishing and portuary activities) and has been studied extensively, particularly within the CHARM (Eastern Channel Habitat Atlas for Marine Resource Management) program, a Franco-English collaboration funded by INTERREG III A. The "Modioles 2004" survey was carried out in the frame of the CHARM program, whose principal objectives were i) to map the distribution of the fauna at 46 sites sampled, with a Rallier du Baty dredge, offshore Calais in 2004, ii) to compare the results with those obtained by Cabioch and his collaborators for the period 1972-1976, and iii) to analyze space-time changes that have occurred in sessile epifauna since the earlier survey. In the intervening 30 years, the studied area has sanded up, sessile species distribution has extended eastward and species richness has doubled. Modifications in the sediment cover and assemblage composition can be explained by several factors, such as fluctuating survival rates due to temperature changes and the impact of anthropogenic activities (e.g., fishing, underwater cabling and pollution).

Keywords


sessile epifauna; long-term changes; pebble community; Dover Strait

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