MEPS 273:147-162 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps273147

Modeling the impact of oyster culture on a mudflat food web in Marennes-Oléron Bay (France)

Delphine Leguerrier1, Nathalie Niquil1,*, Aurélie Petiau1, Alain Bodoy2

1Laboratoire de Biologie et Environnement Marins, FRE-CNRS 2727, Université de la Rochelle, Pôle Sciences et Technologie, av. Michel Crépeau, 17042 La Rochelle Cedex 1, France
2Centre de Recherche sur les Ecosystèmes Marins et Aquacoles (CREMA / Unité Mixte de Recherche 10, CNRS-IFREMER), BP 5, 17137 L¹Houmeau, France
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: We used a carbon-based food web model to investigate the effects of oyster cultivation on the ecosystem of an intertidal mudflat. A previously published food web model of a mudflat in Marennes-Oléron Bay, France, was updated with revised parameters, and a realistic surface area and density of existing oyster cultures on the mudflat. We developed 2 hypothetical scenarios to estimate the impact of oyster cultivation on the food web structure of the ecosystem: one with no oysters, the other with a doubled area devoted to cultivated oysters in the bay. Oysters are direct trophic competitors of other filter feeders, and their presence modifies benthic-pelagic coupling by forcing a shift from pelagic consumers to benthic consumers. Increasing the surface area of cultivated oysters caused secondary production to increase, providing food for top predators (in particular juvenile nekton), reinforcing the nursery role of the mudflat in the ecosystem, and altering the species composition available to the top predators.


KEY WORDS: Carbon flux · Inverse analysis · Food web · Network analysis · Bivalve culture


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