DAO 79:249-255 (2008)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao01897

Before and after wasting disease in common eelgrass Zostera marina along the French Atlantic coasts: a general overview and first accurate mapping

Laurent Godet1,*, Jérôme Fournier1, Marieke M. van Katwijk2, Frédéric Olivier1, Patrick Le Mao3, Christian Retière1

1Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Département Milieux et Peuplements Aquatiques, Station marine de Dinard USM0404 – UMR 5178 BOME 17, Avenue George V, 35800 Dinard, France
2Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Department of Environmental Science, Postbus 9010, 6500GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands
3Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), Laboratoire Environnement et Ressources Finistère-Bretagne Nord, Station de St-Malo, 2 bis, rue Grout Saint Georges, BP 46, 35402 Saint-Malo Cedex, France
*Email:

ABSTRACT: We examined the original manuscripts of a French national survey conducted in 1933 on the state of common eelgrass Zostera marina beds along the French Atlantic coasts during the period when wasting disease struck the entire North Atlantic population in the 1930s. Based on GIS related techniques and old sets of aerial photographs, we present the first accurate mapping of the Z. marina beds before wasting disease occurred and assess their spatial recolonization since the 1950s in the Chausey Archipelago (France), which contains large Z. marina beds. The national survey confirmed that the Z. marina beds almost totally disappeared from the French coasts during the 1930s. However, the disease symptoms seem to have begun locally a few years before. On the study site, we found that the Z. marina beds were more than twice as extended than as they are today, and covered both subtidal and intertidal areas. By the 1950s, 20 yr after the onset of the disease, the beds had hardly recolonized, and contrary to the recolonization patterns reported elsewhere in Europe, they were mainly restricted to subtidal areas. The subtidal and intertidal Z. marina beds on the site are now rapidly expanding.


KEY WORDS: Zostera marina · Common eelgrass · Wasting disease · Long-term change · Accurate mapping · France


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Cite this article as: Godet L, Fournier J, van Katwijk MM, Olivier F, Le Mao P, Retière C (2008) Before and after wasting disease in common eelgrass Zostera marina along the French Atlantic coasts: a general overview and first accurate mapping. Dis Aquat Org 79:249-255. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao01897

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