Recent changes in estuarine benthic and suprabenthic communities resulting from the development of harbour infrastructure.

Research paper by J C JC Dauvin, N N Desroy, A L AL Janson, C C Vallet, S S Duhamel

Indexed on: 27 Oct '05Published on: 27 Oct '05Published in: Marine Pollution Bulletin


Using a Before/During/After sampling protocol, the effects of the Le Havre harbour extension, which was started at the end of 2001, on the macrobenthic and suprabenthic communities in the eastern Bay of Seine (English Channel) were examined. As the construction phase has not yet been completed, the results presented here reflect only the data collected before and during the operations (September 2000 and 2002 for benthos sampling and March 2001, September 2001, October 2002 and March 2003 for suprabenthos sampling). Although bio-sedimentary changes did occur at the mouth of the Seine river, an analysis of benthic assemblages reveals that the dredging and construction operations do not seem to have influenced assemblage structure or the spatial distribution of organisms. Comparisons of the suprabenthic assemblages at each sampling date indicate that seasonal dynamics was mainly responsible for determining species distribution. We conclude that, 1 year into the harbour management plan, the observed changes in benthic and suprabenthic assemblage abundance do not exceed the range of spatial variability that exists naturally in the Seine estuary. Despite this compensatory actions designed to protect the aquatic habitats and to preserve a sustainable and healthy ecosystem have been added to the infrastructure development plan.