Broad-scale patterns of aquatic biodiversity associated with man-made structures and landscapes: Benthic invertebrate assemblages of Atlantic saltworking sites
Authors: Herbert, R.J.H., Ross, K., Moody, C., Cruz, T., Neves, R. and Stillman, R.A.
Start date: 30 August 2015
Few studies have investigated the broad-scale geographical pattern of aquatic biodiversity associated with man-made structures and landscapes. We investigated the diversity and biomass of benthic macroinvertebrate communities associated with lagoons and ponds of coastal saltworking sites along European Atlantic seaboard between Andalucía, Spain (36 degree N) and the south coast of England (50 degrees N). These regions are important for breeding and migratory shore birds and yet habitats are threatened from a variety of disturbances and environmental change. Therefore an important motivation for this work was to investigate how food resources for migratory coastal shore birds also varied between sites, structures and location. Our main hypotheses were that ‘species richness, community composition and biomass are primarily dependent on the type of pond and the current and historic use of the sites’. We collected spring and autumn benthic core samples from water bodies across 20 current or historic salt working sites in 5 coastal regions. We also measured a range of abiotic parameters including salinity, temperature and macrophtye cover. Our findings may have implications for the management of biodiversity in coastal saltworking regions and the creation of new lagoons.