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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 483:153-167 (2013)  -  DOI:

Shift in benthic assemblages and organisms’ diet at salmon farms: community structure and stable isotope analyses

Myriam D. Callier1,2,*, Sébastien Lefebvre3, Mary K. Dunagan2, Marie-Paule Bataille4, Jennifer Coughlan2, Tasman P. Crowe2

1Ifremer, Département Ressources Biologiques et Environnement, Unité Biologie des Organismes Marins Exploités, Station de Palavas, UMR 5119 ECOSYM, Chemin de Maguelone, 34250 Palavas-les-Flots, France
2School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
3Université de Lille 1 sciences et technologies, Station Marine de Wimereux, UMR CNRS 8187 LOG Laboratoire d’Océanologie et Géosciences, 28 av. Foch, 62930 Wimereux, France
4UMR INRA 950 EVA, Institut de Biologie Fondamentale et Appliquée, Université de Caen, 14032 Caen, France

ABSTRACT: The extent of the influence of salmon farming on the environment and on the uptake of particulate and dissolved effluents by benthic organisms was assessed using community structure and stable isotope analyses. Sediment cores were collected in 2 directions: perpendicular and parallel to the main residual current, 0, 25 and 200 m from 2 salmon farms (Millstone and Cranford) located in Mulroy Bay, Ireland. In addition, artificial substrates were placed for 2 mo at 1 m depth 0, 25 and 200 m from one farm to trace the uptake of farm-related nutrients by fouling organisms. The extent of measurable change in benthic communities (abundance, diversity, structure, trophic composition) depended on residual current direction. Intraspecific variation in isotopic values in benthic invertebrates was mostly explained by distance from cages. Organisms collected at impacted sites exhibited a shift in isotopic composition towards that of farm wastes. A shift in δ13C was observed in several invertebrates, including the polychaetes Malacoceros fuliginosus and Nephtys hombergii, Nematoda and the anemone Anthopleura balii. Fouling communities collected on artificial structures, mainly composed of the tunicate Ascidiella aspersa, showed higher δ15N values at fish cage sites compared to sites 200 m away. The study demonstrated that fish effluents were assimilated and became food sources for several organisms.

KEY WORDS: Aquaculture · Organic matter · Stable isotope · Community structure · Diet shift · Trophic structure

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Cite this article as: Callier MD, Lefebvre S, Dunagan MK, Bataille MP, Coughlan J, Crowe TP (2013) Shift in benthic assemblages and organisms’ diet at salmon farms: community structure and stable isotope analyses. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 483:153-167.

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