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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 543:209-222 (2016)  -  DOI:

Long-term effects of tidal restriction on fish assemblages in east Atlantic coastal marshlands

Raquel Moreno-Valcárcel1,*, Francisco J. Oliva-Paterna2, Stanislao Bevilacqua3, Antonio Terlizzi3, Carlos Fernández-Delgado1

1Departamento de Zoología, Campus Universitario de Rabanales, Universidad de Córdoba, 14071 Córdoba, Spain
2Departamento de Zoología y Antropología Física, Campus de Espinardo, Universidad de Murcia, 30100 Murcia, Spain
3Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche ed Ambientali, Università del Salento, CoNISMa, 73100 Lecce, Italy
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic pressures on coastal and estuarine wetlands are causing a decline in their ecological value and resources. The construction of hydraulic infrastructures stopping tidal influxes is among the most important historical and current threats to coastal wetlands. Yet, the potential effects of tidal restriction have been poorly studied in European marshlands. We analysed the long-term effects of tidal restriction on the fish assemblage of Atlantic marshlands. Multivariate and univariate analyses detected significant spatial and temporal differences in the structure and functioning of fish assemblages between an impacted marshland and control sites. Abundance and biomass values in the impacted marshland were 3 to 4 times higher than in controls, and the fish assemblage was dominated by exotic invasive species, while the control marshlands were dominated by native species. Generalist freshwater and estuarine guilds were dominant in the impacted marshland with respect to controls, where guilds were evenly represented. The diversity of feeding mode functional groups in controls was significantly higher than in the impacted marshland, which was strongly characterized by omnivorous species. This study highlights biotic homogenization as one of the main consequences of tidal restriction through the shift from native assemblages of specialized fish species towards assemblages of generalist, cosmopolitan and non-native species.

KEY WORDS: After-Control-Impact designs · Biotic homogenization · Doñana National Park · Ecological guilds · Multivariate analysis · Salt marshes · Sluice gates

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Cite this article as: Moreno-Valcárcel R, Oliva-Paterna FJ, Bevilacqua S, Terlizzi A, Fernández-Delgado C (2016) Long-term effects of tidal restriction on fish assemblages in east Atlantic coastal marshlands. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 543:209-222.

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