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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 735:27-41 (2024)  -  DOI:

Seasonal dynamic of the benthic food web in subtidal sandbanks

A. E. Robert1,2,*, N. Quillien1, M. Bacha1,3, C. Caulle4, M. Nexer1, B. Parent4, T. Garlan5, A. Carpentier6, R. Amara3, N. Desroy2

1France Energies Marines - Environmental Integration R&D Program, 525 Avenue Alexis de Rochon, 29280 Plouzané, France
2IFREMER, Unité Littoral, Laboratoire Environnement et Ressources de Bretagne Nord, CRESCO, 38 rue du Port-Blanc, 35800 Dinard, France
3Laboratoire d’Océanologie et de Géosciences, UMR 8187 CNRS, Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale, 32 Avenue Foch, 62930 Wimereux, France
4Ocean Zoom, 2 chemin de la Houssinière, 44300 Nantes, France
5Shom (French Hydrographic Office), 13 rue du Chatellier, 29200 Brest, France
6Université de Rennes, BOREA (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Université, Université de Caen Normandie, Université des Antilles), Campus de Beaulieu, 35000 Rennes, France
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Submarine sandbanks are prevalent worldwide but, paradoxically, these ecosystems and their dynamics remain largely unknown. As submarine sandbanks are targeted by a large variety of human activities, there is an urgent need for sound scientific knowledge for environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and the appropriate management of biodiversity in these areas. To our knowledge, the present study is the first to investigate the seasonal dynamics of the benthic food web in sandbank areas. We performed a stable isotope analysis in the French part of the southern North Sea. This area is typified by numerous sandbanks and by massive phytoplankton blooms in spring. We found a very simple food web structure that is heavily dependent on organic matter particles in seawater. Primary consumers, i.e. deposit feeders and, to a lesser extent, suspension feeders, dominate the benthic biomass. Small predator-scavengers such as annelids, shrimps and crabs prey upon them. Fish predators such as Echiichthys vipera represent a very restricted proportion of the biomass. We observed that the general structure of the food web is relatively well preserved over seasons. We thus propose that the functioning of the ecosystem is resilient to natural disruptions—such as dune migrations—and, probably, to anthropogenic disturbances.

KEY WORDS: Macrobenthos · Invertebrates · Fish · Trophic web · Isotopic metrics · Soft sediments · North Sea

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Cite this article as: Robert AE, Quillien N, Bacha M, Caulle C and others (2024) Seasonal dynamic of the benthic food web in subtidal sandbanks. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 735:27-41.

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