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Response of benthic macrofauna to multiple anthropogenic pressures in the shallow coastal zone south of Sfax (Tunisia, central Mediterranean Sea)

Author:
Mosbahi, Nawfel, Serbaji, Mohamed Moncef, Pezy, Jean-Philippe, Neifar, Lassad, Dauvin, Jean-Claude
Source:
Environmental pollution 2019 v.253 pp. 474-487
ISSN:
0269-7491
Subject:
Crustacea, Polychaeta, analysis of variance, anthropogenic activities, aquaculture, cadmium, carnivores, cluster analysis, coasts, community structure, copper, dominant species, ecosystems, environmental indicators, extensive farming, fauna, health status, heavy metals, industry, marine environment, molluscs, monitoring, organic matter, phosphogypsum, pollution, seasonal variation, species diversity, surveys, texture, urbanization, Mediterranean Sea, Tunisia
Abstract:
Anthropogenic activities including coastal industries, urbanization, extensive agriculture and aquaculture as well as their cumulative impacts represent major sources of perturbation of marine coastal systems. Macrobenthic communities are useful ecological indicators for monitoring the health status of marine environments (or polluted environments). The present study reports, for the first time, the response of benthic macrofauna sampled during two years survey (2015–2016) to multiple anthropogenic pressures on the coastal zone south of Sfax (Tunisia). A total of 12 stations were monitored seasonally at locations downstream from the main potential sources of disturbance. 106 macrobenthos taxa, belonging to six animal phyla and 70 families, were identified with a dominance of polychaetes (42%), crustaceans (35%) and molluscs (18%). We used an ANOVA test and cluster analysis to identify spatial gradient linked to environmental and anthropogenic factors, including depth, sedimentary texture and anthropogenic activities (i.e. phosphogypsum discharges).The macrofauna present lowest species number and abundance on stations undergoing anthropogenic inputs, which are extremely polluted by heavy metals (Cd, Cu, F and N) and excess of organic matter. Univariate parameters reveal a general trend of increasing species diversity with increasing distance from the pollution source. The polluted stations are strongly dominated by carnivores, and selective deposit feeders, and more closely linked to the availability of trophic resources than to anthropogenic constraints. The seasonal changes in macrobenthic abundance, diversity indices and community structure are mainly linked to the biological cycle (e.g. recruitment events) of the dominant species. Biotic indices (AMBI and BO2A) classified the coastal zone south of Sfax as moderate and good ecological status. This study suggests that initiating a long-term monitoring programme would improve our understanding of the temporal changes of macrobenthic communities of this ecosystem, contributing to the assessment of effective management and conservation measures in this disturbed area.
Agid:
6510005