Main content area

Regional-scale analysis of subtidal rocky shore community

Derrien-Courtel, Sandrine, Le Gal, Aodren, Grall, Jacques
Helgoland marine research 2013 v.67 no.4 pp. 697-712
Laminaria, biodiversity, biologists, coastal water, community structure, fauna, flora, global warming, habitats, indicator species, macroalgae, monitoring, oil spills, surveys, turbidity, water temperature, France
The French monitoring network, REseau BENThique (REBENT), was launched by the Ministry of the Environment in 2003 following the 1999 Erika oil spill. REBENT aimed to acquire baseline knowledge of coastal benthic habitat distributions with a special focus on biological diversity. This study analyzed data from 38 subtidal rocky reef sites collected by a single diving team of marine biologists along the coast of Brittany from 2004 to 2010. At each site, the depth limits of the algal belts were determined between 0 and −40 m Chart Datum (CD); the flora and fauna compositions and abundances were sampled at −3 and −8 m CD. A total of 364 taxa (156 flora and 208 fauna), belonging to 12 phyla, were identified. The results showed that the depth limit and density of kelp beds increased as water turbidity decreased; moreover, several changes in community structure could be related to water turbidity and temperature. Thus, northern and southern Brittany showed strong differences in diversity and structure of the dominant kelp species (Laminaria hyperborea and Saccorhiza polyschides). The results from this kelp habitat composition survey (dominant kelp species and indicator species) provided important information for local pressure assessments, like increases in turbidity. The data also provided a reference that could be useful for detecting changes in coastal water temperatures due to global warming.