Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Scientific knowledge on exchange processes determinig the structure of benthic communities in tidal flats

Summary :
Basic scientific knowledge has been obtained on a large number of processes affecting the exchange of sediments, carbon and nutrients between the water column and the sediment of tidal flats. These processes are related to the structure and functioning of the sediment-dwelling ecological community. Knowledge of the processes is needed to link the structure of the communities observed to the forcing of the systems, eg by currents, nutrient advection, suspended particulate matter, etc. Changes in the latter forcing may be due to anthropogenic influences or to global change, and their effects on the functioning of the ecosystem are a matter of great concern.

Our results describe erosion-deposition processes and the influence of the biota (algal mats, macrobenthic animals) on them from different points of view. The functioning of the benthic food web was described using measurements on the structure and activity of all the main groups involved. We developed species 'ecoprofiles' for dominant macrobenthic animals of tidal flat communities, and successfully predicted species occurrence in a validation estuary from the observed forcing of the system.

These results are or will be published in the open literature.

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