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Macrobenthic communities in the tidal channels around the Gulf of Gabès, Tunisia

Abstract : A yearlong seasonal survey was carried out during 2016–2017 at 26 stations representing four tidal channels of the north-western part of the Gulf of Gabès (Tunisia). The area studied (characterized by a maximum tidal range of 2.3 m) was subjected to diverse anthropogenic pressures: from the phosphate industry and its metallic pollution, unauthorized bottom trawling in shallow water (known locally as ‘Kiss’), and organic pollution from the nearby urbanized areas. A total of 23,506 invertebrates representing 311 taxa were collected. Dominant taxa were the polychaetes with 51.4% of the individuals collected and 39.3% of the taxa, the amphipods (18.6% and 15.5%), the tanaids (12.3% and 2.6%), and the molluscs (11.5% and 18.3%). The mean annual abundances varied widely from one channel to another: from 300 to 3700 ind·m−2. The stations located in deeper waters exhibited greater variability. Measurements of abundance revealed seasonal changes with maximum values in winter, spring, and lower numbers in summer. Each tidal channel was characterized by specific features in the fauna. The macrofauna were dominated by the polychaete Cirratulus cirratus (mainly in spring) and the amphipod Microdeutopus anomalus (mainly in winter), whilst both of the tanaids, Apseudopsis gabesi (the first sighting reported for the area) and A. mediterraneus, were found to be abundant in winter in at least one of the four channels. Species are mainly deposit feeders, herbivorous and omnivorous. The analyses on spatial and temporal changes of the macrofauna population revealed variations according to the composition of the fauna increasing or falling along the channels and as a function of seasonal changes. In spite of a high level of anthropogenic activities, the Ecological Status (ES) assessment (applying the AMBI and M-AMBI indices) attributed High or Good ES for 10 stations, Moderate ES for 11 stations and five stations showed a poor ES at least during one season. Sampling subtidal stations in the future to survey long-term degradation of such ecosystems of the coastal environment of the Gulf of Gabès in Tunisia is proposed.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, February 3, 2021 - 9:02:53 PM
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Jean-Claude Dauvin, Abir Fersi, Jean-Philippe Pezy, Ali Bakalem, Lassad Neifar. Macrobenthic communities in the tidal channels around the Gulf of Gabès, Tunisia. Marine Pollution Bulletin, Elsevier, 2020, 162, pp.111846. ⟨10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111846⟩. ⟨hal-03130841⟩

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