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See detailFrom mechanical to chemical impact of anchoring in seagrasses: the premises of anthropogenic patch generation in Posidonia oceanica meadows
Abadie, Arnaud ULg; Lejeune, Pierre; Pergent, Gérard et al

in Marine Pollution Bulletin (in press)

Intensive anchoring of leisure boats in seagrass meadows leads to mechanical damages. This anthropogenic impact creates bare mat patches that are not easily recolonized by the plant. Several tools are ... [more ▼]

Intensive anchoring of leisure boats in seagrass meadows leads to mechanical damages. This anthropogenic impact creates bare mat patches that are not easily recolonized by the plant. Several tools are used to study human impacts on the structure of seagrass meadows but they are not able to assess the indirect and long term implication of mechanical destruction. We chose to investigate the possible changes in the substrate chemistry given contrasted boat impacts. Our observations show that hydrogen sulfide concentrations remain high at 15 and 20 m depth (42.6 µM and 18.8 µM) several months after the highest period of anchoring during the summer. Moreover, our multidisciplinary study reveals that anchoring impacts of large boats at 15 and 20 m depth can potentially change the seascape structure. By taking into account both structural and chemical assessments, different managing strategies must be applied for coastal areas under anthropogenic pressures. [less ▲]

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See detailEnvironmental monitoring: between science and decision-making
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Gobert, Sylvie ULg; Lejeune, Pierre et al

Scientific conference (2016, April 13)

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See detailEstimating carbon fluxes in a Posidonia oceanica system: Paradox of the bacterial carbon demand
Velimirov, Branko; Lejeune, Pierre; Kirschner, A. et al

in Estuarine Coastal & Shelf Science (2016), 171

A mass balance ecosystemic approach, based on bacterial carbon demands and primary production data, was used to investigate if the bacterial community (freewater bacterioplankton and benthic bacteria of ... [more ▼]

A mass balance ecosystemic approach, based on bacterial carbon demands and primary production data, was used to investigate if the bacterial community (freewater bacterioplankton and benthic bacteria of the oxygenated sediment layer) could be sustained by the main primary producers (Posidonia oceanica and its epiphytes, adjacent macroalgae and phytoplankton communities; hereafter called the P. oceanica system) of a non-eutrophic Mediterranean bay. Unexpectedly, the findings of this study differed from previous works that used benthic incubation chamber and O2 optode methods. In this study, data were grouped in two categories, corresponding to two time periods, according to the seawater temperature regime (<18 °C or >18 °C): from May to October and from November to April. Between May and October, the produced benthic macrophyte tissues could not provide the carbon required by the bacteria of the oxygenated sediment layer, showing that the balance production of the investigated bay was clearly heterotrophic (i.e. negative) during this time period. In contrast, between November and April, benthic bacteria respiration nearly equated to carbon production. When integrating the open water carbon dynamics above the meadow in the model, a negative carbon balance was still observed between May and October, while a slight carbon excess was noticed between November and April. In the light of these findings, the carbon balance being negative on an annual basis, alternative carbon sources are required for the maintenance of the bacterial carbon production. [less ▲]

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See detailPassive acoustic recording of Ophidion rochei calling activity in Calvi Bay (France)
Kever, Loïc ULg; Lejeune, Pierre; Michel, Loïc ULg et al

in Marine Ecology (2016)

Passive acoustic recording (PAR) systems are non-invasive and allow researchers to collect data on large spatial and temporal scales. Since fish sounds are species-specific and repetitive, PAR can provide ... [more ▼]

Passive acoustic recording (PAR) systems are non-invasive and allow researchers to collect data on large spatial and temporal scales. Since fish sounds are species-specific and repetitive, PAR can provide a large amount of data about spatio-temporal variation in fish distribution and behaviors. Ophidion rochei is a sand-dwelling species from Mediterranean and Black Sea meaning the behavior of this discreet nocturnal fish cannot be observed in the field. Fortunately, male O. rochei produce long multiple-pulsed calls that are easy to identify. The aim of this study was to determine that male calls are linked to reproduction behaviors. If so, PAR would allow a fine description of the seasonal and daily cycles in O. rochei reproduction. A hydrophone was deployed from 18 July 2011 to 21 June 2012 and from 7 June 2013 to 2 July 2013 on a sandy area (42.5801° N, 8.7285° E) in front of the STARESO research station (NW Corsica). Male sounds were obtained only at night from late spring to early fall. The annual sound production period corresponds to the reproductive season of O. rochei. Sound production followed diel cycles: it was sustained for the entire night at the beginning of the sound production season but limited to shorter periods in the evening during the second half of the season. These differences in daily and seasonal sound production tempo can be used in future recordings to make inter-annual comparisons and estimate the physiological state of the fish. [less ▲]

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See detailSTAtion of Reference and rEsearch on Change of local and global Anthropogenic Pressures on Mediterranean Ecosystems Drifts: The STARECAPMED project
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Abadie, Arnaud ULg; Binard, Marc ULg et al

Conference (2015, November 08)

The Marine and Oceanographic Research Station STARESO in the Calvi Bay, Corsica (France), is a unique tool in a preserved natural site that includes all the characteristic ecosystems of the Mediterranean ... [more ▼]

The Marine and Oceanographic Research Station STARESO in the Calvi Bay, Corsica (France), is a unique tool in a preserved natural site that includes all the characteristic ecosystems of the Mediterranean littoral. The station, established in 1970, has archived environmental data for decades. The STARECAPMED project, multidisciplinary, articulates itself around these two main features. Its objective is to understand how human activities can interact with the fundamental processes that govern the functioning of the different coastal ecosystems of a Mediterranean bay. The understanding of these interactions involves: (i) the identification of the anthropogenic pressures; (ii) the quantification of their impacts on the ecosystems; (iii) the prioritization of these impacts. STARECAPMED also aims to confirm the relevance of the use of the Calvi Bay as a reference in the study of local and global pressures and the changes they may cause on the structure and the functioning of Mediterranean coastal ecosytems. [less ▲]

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See detailDGTs, a complementary tool towards more efficient biomonitoring practices
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Donnay, Annick et al

Conference (2015, October 01)

Among the diversity of contaminants, trace elements (TEs) remain of concern because of their persistence, their ability to accumulate in biota and their toxicity. The direct measurement of their dissolved ... [more ▼]

Among the diversity of contaminants, trace elements (TEs) remain of concern because of their persistence, their ability to accumulate in biota and their toxicity. The direct measurement of their dissolved concentrations only gives punctual and fluctuating information, and often remains below detection limits of analytical methods. The more appropriate use of sentinel organisms, or bioindicators, to monitor TEs has thus often been preferred in environmental surveys. The introduction of the diffusive gradients in thin films (DGTs) technique has however participated to progressively change this binary view - bioindicator vs water - of the coastal monitoring of TEs, and DGTs rapidly became a relevant complementary tool to bioindicators, has illustrated below. In the framework of the STARECAPMED project, the ecology and the ecotoxicology of TEs were studied in the seagrass Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile and the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis Lamarck, 1819. DGTs (free- and pore-water probes) were deployed before sampling of organisms. TEs were also analyzed in suspended matter (dissolved and suspended-particulate TE speciation). Studies were performed in the Calvi Bay (Corsica, France), northwestern Mediterranean. TE concentrations in organisms and suspended matter or in DGT resins were measured by DRC-ICP-MS after HNO3/H202 mineralization or after a 24h elution in HNO3 1M, respectively. (1) TE bioaccumulation was first seasonally studied in P. oceanica over 3 years. Dissolved TE concentrations monitored with DGTs were low to very low. TE bioaccumulation dynamics in P. oceanica could thus be linked to the natural physiological cycle of the plant, in clean environmental conditions. (2) To complement that field survey, isolated seagrasses were in situ contaminated with TEs at environmental relevant concentrations. Through the use of DGTs, TE uptake kinetics were modelled for seagrasses exposed to know bioavailable concentrations of contaminants, as were loss kinetics during the following depuration phase. The TE sequestration ability of a healthy P. oceanica meadow facing sudden trace metal contamination events could also be quantified. (3) The deployment of pore-water DGT probes in bare-sand or seagrass colonized sediments further showed that, through its stabilizing function of the seabed, P. oceanica maintained higher TE levels in the pore-water. P. oceanica meadows thus offer a significant “depuration-filtering” ecological service along highly anthropized Mediterranean coasts. M. galloprovincialis are widely used in large spatial scale coastal monitoring surveys. (4) The deployment of caged mussels together with DGTs showed that the little contaminated water body of the Calvi Bay was relatively homogenous. It also allowed to calculate TE bioaccumulation towards mussels in reference conditions, and to compare it to native mussel populations. (5) Finally, during a 5 months mussel caging survey, mussels and suspended matter were collected weekly to monthly, such as were deployed DGTs. The physiological status of mussels, the speciation of TEs between their dissolved and suspended-particulate phases, and their relative influence on TE bioaccumulation dynamics in mussels were investigated. In conclusion, these case studies properly demonstrate how DGT probes can be used as a relevant and complementary tool to bioindicators. Their concomitant use should therefore be privileged in monitoring surveys. [less ▲]

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See detailPlankton ecosystem response to the decadal variation of winter intensity in the Mediterranean Sea : a long-term study (1979-2014)
Goffart, Anne ULg; Collignon, Amandine ULg; Hecq, Jean-Henri ULg et al

Poster (2015, October)

In the Mediterranean Sea, several studies with distinct data sets indicate that the pelagic ecosystem underwent periods of change in the late 1980s and in the early 2000s. Here we used a unique long-term ... [more ▼]

In the Mediterranean Sea, several studies with distinct data sets indicate that the pelagic ecosystem underwent periods of change in the late 1980s and in the early 2000s. Here we used a unique long-term time series of data collected in the well-preserved Bay of Calvi (Corsica island, Ligurian Sea, NW Mediterranean) from 1979 and 2014 to explore the synchrony between changes in environmental conditions and phyto- and zooplankton dynamics. We identified an almost decadal, long-term variability in winter intensity, with three distinct periods: the 1980s (1979-1988), the 1990s (1989-1998) and the 2000s (1999-2014), which were characterized by moderate, mild and highly variable winters, respectively. We pointed out how the decadal changes in winter intensity affected (i) the duration and intensity of phyto- and zooplankton blooms, (ii) the mean yearly biomasses, and (iii) the nature of the assemblages. High phyto- and zooplankton biomasses were observed in years characterized by moderate and severe winters, and low phyto- and zooplankton abundances were recorded in years with mild winters. Moderate/severe and mild winters were favorable for diatoms and gelatinous zooplankton, respectively. Focusing on meroplanktonic species, we explored ecological consequences of decadal variations observed in the Bay of Calvi for resource management. We highlighted parallelisms with other European seas. [less ▲]

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See detailPlankton ecosystem response to the decadal variation of winter intensity in the Mediterranean Sea : a long-term study (1979-2014)
Goffart, Anne ULg; Collignon, Amandine ULg; Hecq, Jean-Henri ULg et al

Conference (2015, October)

In the Mediterranean Sea, several studies with distinct data sets indicate that the pelagic ecosystem underwent periods of change in the late 1980s and in the early 2000s. Here we used a unique long-term ... [more ▼]

In the Mediterranean Sea, several studies with distinct data sets indicate that the pelagic ecosystem underwent periods of change in the late 1980s and in the early 2000s. Here we used a unique long-term time series of data collected in the well-preserved Bay of Calvi (Corsica island, Ligurian Sea, NW Mediterranean) from 1979 and 2014 to explore the synchrony between changes in environmental conditions and phyto- and zooplankton dynamics. We identified an almost decadal, long-term variability in winter intensity, with three distinct periods: the 1980s (1979-1988), the 1990s (1989-1998) and the 2000s (1999-2014), which were characterized by moderate, mild and highly variable winters, respectively. We pointed out how the decadal changes in winter intensity affected (i) the duration and intensity of phyto- and zooplankton blooms, (ii) the mean yearly biomasses, and (iii) the nature of the assemblages. High phyto- and zooplankton biomasses were observed in years characterized by moderate and severe winters, and low phyto- and zooplankton abundances were recorded in years with mild winters. Moderate/severe and mild winters were favorable for diatoms and gelatinous zooplankton, respectively. Focusing on meroplanktonic species, we explored ecological consequences of decadal variations observed in the Bay of Calvi for resource management. We highlighted parallelisms with other European seas. [less ▲]

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See detailTrace metal speciation? An essential aspect of biomonitoring to avoid wrong conclusions
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Donnay, Annick et al

Poster (2015, September 29)

The Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis is widely used as a bioindicator species in active monitoring surveys. As a filter feeder artificially maintained in the water column, it bioaccumulates ... [more ▼]

The Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis is widely used as a bioindicator species in active monitoring surveys. As a filter feeder artificially maintained in the water column, it bioaccumulates trace metals from the surrounding water in their dissolved and particulate forms. However, most monitoring surveys don’t take into account that speciation aspect when studying trace metal accumulation kinetics in mussels. In the framework of the STARECAPMED project, we monitored trace metal concentrations in the flesh of mussels together with their “most bioavailable” dissolved and particulate fractions in the water column for almost 5 months (February-June 2011). Mussels were purchased from 2 little contaminated French shellfish farms (SARL Etang de Diane and ferme marine des Aresquiers), placed in several pouches to allow regular sampling, and immerged near the Oceanographic Research Station STARESO in the Calvi bay, northwestern Corsica. Mussels and water samples for suspended matter filtration were collected every week to two weeks, as were deployed DGTs. Seawater samples were filtered through 47 mm hydrophilic PTFE membrane filters with a 0.45 µm pore size until clogging. In the laboratory, mussel flesh and filters were digested in Teflon vessels with acids (HNO3/H202) in a closed microwave digestion lab station. DGT resins were eluted for 24h in 1.0 M HNO3. Trace metal concentrations (Cr, Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ag, Cd, Pb) were measured by DRC-ICP-MS. Analytical accuracy was checked by analyzing CRMs. All the studied metals except Pb and Zn were present in the water column to over 80% in their dissolved form. The contribution of the dissolved pathway was thus likely to be predominant in the oligotrophic Calvi bay. Dissolved trace metals showed little temporal variability of their levels, likely resulting from the integration over time of their levels in the DGT probes and the lack of seasonality of this fraction. In contrast, Zn showed great variability of its particulate fraction during the survey. Such temporal variability was also observed for Cr, more abundant in its particulate form at the end of the survey, and for Mn and Pb that conversely tended to decrease. The dynamic of trace metals in the mussel flesh is regulated by the environmental bioavailability of dissolved and particulate metals, the ecophysiological status of mussels and the trophic conditions of the water body. In the oligotrophic Calvi bay, showing background contamination levels by metals, the trophic conditions played a major role once out of the spring plankton bloom. It led to the increase of metal concentrations measured in the flesh of mussels undergoing starvation. However, some metals such as Cu and Co displayed only little temporal variations of their concentrations, these essential micronutrients being well regulated. The combined study of trace metal bioavailability and mussel ecophysiology in defined environmental conditions allows discriminating against biotic and abiotic factors regulating contaminant uptake in mussels, thus avoiding wrong conclusions about the observed dynamics of the studied contaminants. Mussels are a good proxy of coastal water quality, but their proper use notably requires adjustment of raw contaminant concentrations with trophic status of monitored sites. [less ▲]

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See detailSound production by dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus at spawning aggregation sites
Bertucci, Frédéric; Lejeune, Pierre; Payrot, J et al

in Journal of Fish Biology (2015), 87(2), 400-421

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See detailSTARECAPMED (STAtion of Reference and rEsearch on Change of local and global Anthropogenic Pressures on Mediterranean Ecosystems Drifts) - Année 2014. Rapport de recherches.
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Abadie, Arnaud ULg; Binard, Marc ULg et al

Report (2015)

La prise de conscience, par le grand public, de l'impact grandissant de l'homme sur l'océan est récente. Elle se traduit par une volonté politique sincère de correction par des mesures de protection, de ... [more ▼]

La prise de conscience, par le grand public, de l'impact grandissant de l'homme sur l'océan est récente. Elle se traduit par une volonté politique sincère de correction par des mesures de protection, de gestion et de développement durable. Ces politiques, et leurs conséquences économiques et sociétales lourdes, ne peuvent être acceptées que si les décisions se fondent sur des connaissances scientifiques incontestables et montrent des résultats scientifiquement prouvés. Par ailleurs, ces décisions doivent prendre en compte des impacts qui s'opèrent à des échelles de temps et d’espace très variables, de quelques heures à plusieurs dizaines d’années et de quelques mètres à plusieurs milliers de km. En termes politiques, l'information scientifique nécessaire à la prise de décision doit pouvoir couvrir les différentes échelles depuis le niveau local et régional, jusqu'à l'échelle nationale, européenne voire globale, et cela sur le plus long terme possible. Enfin, pour être complète, l'information scientifique sur les écosystèmes marins doit pouvoir répondre à trois questions objectives : (i) quel est l'état? (ii) quelle est l'évolution? (iii) quels sont les mécanismes et processus mis en jeux? et à une question plus prospective : (vi) que peux-t-on prévoir et comment agir? Le présent rapport ne peut pas, à lui seul, refléter toute la richesse du programme STARECAPMED. En 3 ans, STARECAPMED a généré plusieurs centaines de milliers de données nouvelles, ré-exploité plusieurs centaines de publications, rapports et autres enregistrements passés et présents. Le programme a aussi généré de nombreux documents, rapports et mémoires. Enfin, des publications internationales et des thèses de doctorat sont en cours de réalisation ou abouties. Afin de rester lisible, nous avons donc choisi de présenter ce rapport 2014 sous la forme de 12 exemples parmi les travaux en cours. Ces exemples sont traités selon un schéma identique en 4 points simples : (i) La présentation du cas d’étude dans le projet global ; (ii),Les approches innovatrices développées ; (iii),La présentation de résultats marquants ; (iv),Les délivrables de STARECAPMED pour les politiques publiques. [less ▲]

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See detailSeagrasses or caged mussels to bioassess the contamination rate of Mediterranean coastal waters? That is the question
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Galgani, François; Benedicto, José et al

in PeerJ (2015, May)

Biological indicators have the capacity to integrate the temporal changes of contaminants, concentrations or fluxes over various time-scales, and are thus considered as interesting tools for water quality ... [more ▼]

Biological indicators have the capacity to integrate the temporal changes of contaminants, concentrations or fluxes over various time-scales, and are thus considered as interesting tools for water quality biomonitoring. Since the mid-70ies, French programs have developed water monitoring approaches based on the use of bivalve molluscs; and recently the natural background and the extent of water contamination were bioassessed at the scale of the whole western Mediterranean. But even if bivalve molluscs are viewed as reliable bioindicators, their use is not always made easy as a result of their absence in numerous coastal regions that force their transplantation (cages) during several months before their sampling and analysis. This weakness led several scientists to evaluate the bioindicator abilities of other marine organisms. Seagrasses, whose ability to bioaccumulate contaminants proportionally to environmental contamination levels has been clearly demonstrated, have thus been proposed as an appropriate alternative tool for coastal water quality assessment. Very little studies have however so far considered the combined utilization of these two groups of bioindicator organisms, i.e. caged bivalve molluscs and seagrasses. In the framework of the STARECAPMED project, we therefore compared and discussed the bioaccumulation of trace elements in the Neptune grass Posidonia oceanica and in caged Mediterranean mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis. The sampling was performed at the scale of the western Mediterranean. The two species told two contamination stories which, although sometimes different, showed to be complementary. P. oceanica and M. galloprovincialis bioaccumulated dissolved trace elements from the water column and thus provided information regarding trace element contamination severity integrated over several days to a few months. Seagrasses, strongly rooted in the sediments, reflected the long-term exposure to trace elements since sediments offer a degree of time integration over several years to decades. Caged mussels, as filter feeder artificially maintained in the water column, bioaccumulated trace elements from their particulate phase, and therefore gave valuable information regarding continental-terrigenous inputs to coastal waters. In conclusion, seagrasses and mussels should neither supplant, nor substitute, but rather complement each other in order to provide the full time- and space-integrated coastal contamination story of the Mediterranean. [less ▲]

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See detailTrace element contamination severity of coastal waters: A first bioassessment at the scale of the whole Mediterranean Sea
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Salivas-Decaux, Maylis; Lafabrie, Céline et al

in PeerJ (2015, May)

Human activities generate large volumes of waste that supply marine coastal environments in pathogens, organic matter, nutrients and toxicants. Among the wide range of toxicants are trace elements. Since ... [more ▼]

Human activities generate large volumes of waste that supply marine coastal environments in pathogens, organic matter, nutrients and toxicants. Among the wide range of toxicants are trace elements. Since the latter are toxic for aquatic organisms from threshold levels and as they are therefore likely to cause multiple damage to the population, the community and the ecosystem levels, their environmental occurrence has to be accurately monitored in order to guarantee appropriate environmental management of coastal zones and to preserve marine coastal ecosystems and the goods and services they provide. In the framework of the STARECAPMED project, the present study aimed to monitor, for the first time, the coastal contamination of the entire Mediterranean by As, Ag, Cd, Cu, Hg, Ni and Pb, using Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile as bioindicator species. But sustainable coastal management also requires the development of appropriate contamination classification systems intended, among other purposes, for environmental managers and policy makers. The combined utilization of several complementary monitoring tools, i.e. water quality scale, pollution index (TEPI and TESVI) and spatial analysis (PCA, CA, correlation analysis and GIS mapping) successfully led to the development of an operational classification system of this kind. In particular, the mapping of the trace element contamination according to a new proposed 5-level water quality scale using the quantile method precisely outlined the contamination severity along Mediterranean coasts and facilitated interregional comparisons. The reliability of the use of P. oceanica as bioindicator species was further again demonstrated through several global, regional and local detailed case studies. In conclusion, holistic approaches such as developed in the present study should be privileged to accurately monitor the contamination rate of coastal waters and to transfer relevant information on this composite problem to environmental managers and policy makers. [less ▲]

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See detailPatch types in Posidonia oceanica meadows around Corsica. How can we use them in seascape ecology?
Abadie, Arnaud ULg; Bonacorsi, Marina; Gobert, Sylvie ULg et al

Conference (2015, May)

The meadows formed by the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica are subjected to various natural (e.g., water movement, light availability, sedimentation) and anthropogenic (e.g., anchoring, trawling ... [more ▼]

The meadows formed by the Mediterranean seagrass Posidonia oceanica are subjected to various natural (e.g., water movement, light availability, sedimentation) and anthropogenic (e.g., anchoring, trawling, fish farms, explosives) phenomena that erode them and create diverse types of patches. The assemblage of the P. oceanica matrix and these patches creates particular seascapes. On the basis of this assessment, we aimed to investigate the importance of the patch type in structuring P. oceanica seascapes and to offer new prospects in the large scale studies of seagrass meadows. Five sites encompassing large P. oceanica meadows ranging from 1.86 km² to 4.42 km² along the Corsican coast (France) were considered. Eleven patch types with different sizes, shapes and origins were identified using side scan sonar images (sonograms). Five were recognized as natural and five as anthropogenic. One can be of both origins. The resolution of the sonograms allowed to detect patches of various sizes ranging from 1 m² to 111 829 m². The relation between structural characteristics of patches and the whole seascape aspect was explored using seven landscape metrics relevant for the study of meadows patchiness (patch area, mean radius of gyration, area-weighted radius of gyration, coefficient of variation of the Euclidean nearest-neighbor distance, area-weighted perimeter-area ratio, landscape division index, number of patches). Only a small number of patch types appears to play the strongest role in the characterization of the P. oceanica seascapes. Furthermore, the use of seascape structures seems to be suitable for the development of new tools like indices for the assessment of human impacts on P. oceanica meadows. In this perspective we propose a new and simple index, the Patchiness Source Index (PaSI), to estimate the origin of the patchiness (natural or anthropogenic) for a given area. A landscape approach, as well as information on patch dynamic, should be integrated in the new indices that aim to assess the state of conservation of the whole P. oceanica ecosystem. [less ▲]

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See detailMapping Posidonia oceanica meadows through time A story of precision, evaluation and fragmentation
Abadie, Arnaud ULg; Jousseaume, Matthieu; Lejeune, Pierre et al

Poster (2015, May)

Over the last decades, the interest in mapping Posidonia oceanica beds has increased along with the improvement of the equipment’s precision of data acquisition. In Calvi Bay (Corsica, France) the meadows ... [more ▼]

Over the last decades, the interest in mapping Posidonia oceanica beds has increased along with the improvement of the equipment’s precision of data acquisition. In Calvi Bay (Corsica, France) the meadows cover an area of about 5 km² and are found at a depth ranging from 3 m to 37 m. The availability of three distinct datasets for 1997, 2002 and 2010 allowed to assess changes in the patchiness of the meadows in the bay and to investigate evolution of maps precision through a surface analysis via GIS software. Thus, three maps were elaborated combining aerial photographs and side scan sonar images. The meadows percentage of cover through time was assessed using four bathymetric sections: 0-10 m, 11-20 m, 21-30 m and 31-40 m. Differences in the patchiness of P. oceanica meadows between 1997 and 2010 appear to be moderate (less than 3 %) in the sections 0-10 m and 11-20 m and then greatly increase with depth: 24 % at 21-30 m and 39 % at 31-40 m. This amazing regression seems hardly natural and unlikely given the slight quantity of human activities that can cause damages on the P. oceanica meadows of the Calvi Bay. These results are likely to be mainly due to the improvement of precision and resolution of the aerial photographs (5 m in 1997, 0.8 m in 2002 and 0.5 m in 2010) and sonar images (5 m in 1997, 3 m in 2002 and 0.5 m in 2010). An issue of habitat determination (human vs instrumental) linked with the method adopted for mapping can also cause differences in the percentage of cover. Given the different accuracy among the three maps, the real regression and fragmentation of P. oceanica meadows could be hardly assessed. However, in several areas where the human activities are important, a clear regression or even a disappearance of the meadows has been observed. It is obvious that the last maps are more accurate than the previous ones and, thus, the former can be used for management purpose as well as for study on the patchiness; however, they still keep uncertainty no matter which method is used to create them. [less ▲]

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See detailMarine space ecology and seagrasses. Does patch type matter in Posidonia oceanica seascapes?
Abadie, Arnaud ULg; Gobert, Sylvie ULg; Bonacorsi, Marina et al

in Ecological Indicators (2015), 57

The use of landscape tools in the study of seagrass meadows (seascapes) begins to be widely spreadbut still require the establishment of several basis, i.e. a patch type classification based on ... [more ▼]

The use of landscape tools in the study of seagrass meadows (seascapes) begins to be widely spreadbut still require the establishment of several basis, i.e. a patch type classification based on numericalcharacteristics. Thanks to the complex seascapes created by the Posidonia oceanica meadows, they appearto be suitable for a study at a patch type level (class), which bring a new insight of their arrangement at thewhole seascape scale. By interpreting side scan sonar images from the Corsican coast (France) through aGIS software, it was possible to describe 11 types of patches and to evaluate their natural or anthropogenicorigin. Comparison of different landscape metrics and wave exposure (Relative wave Exposure Index,REI) at the seascape and the patch level showed that the particularity of P. oceanica seascapes are mainlycharacterized by certain types of patches often of anthropogenic origin. Furthermore the REI seems not tobe a relevant index for a study at a class scale. A bathymetrical succession of natural patches was outlinedfrom the lower to the upper limit of the meadow, with a long-term dynamic opposed to a shorter oneconcerning anthropogenic patches. In order to assess the origin (natural or induced by human activities)of the patches in P. oceanica meadows, as well as in any other seagrass, a Patchiness Source Index (PaSI),ranging from 0 to 1, was defined. [less ▲]

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See detailTowards a framework for assessment and management of cumulative human impacts on marine food webs
Giakoumi, Sylvaine; Halpern, Benjamin S.; Michel, Loïc ULg et al

in Conservation Biology (2015), 29(4), 1228-1234

Effective ecosystem-based management requires understanding ecosystem responses to multiple human threats, rather than focusing on single threats. To understand ecosystem responses to anthropogenic ... [more ▼]

Effective ecosystem-based management requires understanding ecosystem responses to multiple human threats, rather than focusing on single threats. To understand ecosystem responses to anthropogenic threats holistically, it is necessary to know how threats affect different components within ecosystems and ultimately alter ecosystem functioning. We used a case study of a Mediterranean seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) food web and expert knowledge elicitation in an application of the initial steps of a framework for assessment of cumulative human impacts on food webs. We produced a conceptual seagrass food web model, determined the main trophic relationships, identified the main threats to the food web components, and assessed the components’ vulnerability to those threats. Some threats had high (e.g., coastal infrastructure) or low impacts (e.g., agricultural runoff) on all food web components, whereas others (e.g., introduced carnivores) had very different impacts on each component. Partitioning the ecosystem into its components enabled us to identify threats previously overlooked and to reevaluate the importance of threats commonly perceived as major. By incorporating this understanding of system vulnerability with data on changes in the state of each threat (e.g., decreasing domestic pollution and increasing fishing) into a food web model, managers may be better able to estimate and predict cumulative human impacts on ecosystems and to prioritize conservation actions. [less ▲]

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See detailA consensual Diving-PAM protocol to monitor Posidonia oceanica photosynthesis
Gobert, Sylvie ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Silva, João et al

in PeerJ (2015)

The seagrass Posidonia oceanica is widely recognized as an effective bioindicator of the health status of Mediterranean coastal waters. Chlorophyll fluorescence measurements, in particular through the ... [more ▼]

The seagrass Posidonia oceanica is widely recognized as an effective bioindicator of the health status of Mediterranean coastal waters. Chlorophyll fluorescence measurements, in particular through the Pulse Amplitude Modulated (PAM) fluorometry method, are performed to study aquatic plant ecology and vitality and to assess their responses to diverse stressful factors. However, the current understanding of P. oceanica photosynthetic responses to environmental stresses does only allow scientists to use the PAM-method as a complementary tool to other more-robust monitoring techniques. Consequently, a more in-depth knowledge of the natural causes of variability of P. oceanica photosynthetic responses are a prerequisite to any surveys relying on that time and cost-effective method. In the framework of the STARECAPMED project, this work aimed to determine the influence of several environmental (depth, daytime, season) and plant-specific characteristics (leaf age, leaf part analyzed, epiphytic coverage) on the photosynthetic responses (Y, ETR, RLC) of P. oceanica. Water temperature, irradiance and several biochemical parameters of the seagrass (chl.a, chl.b, C, N, P, micronutrients such as Fe, Cu) were measured as well. The field survey was performed in a pristine meadow in the Calvi Bay, Corsica. Environmental and plant-physiological characteristics deeply influenced P. oceanica photosynthetic responses. As an example, ETR decreased with depth, contrary to Y that mostly increased. ETR was lower in the basal part of leaf blade, and the epiphytic coverage of leaf tips slightly increased their ETR compared to leaf tips cleaned of epiphytes. Depth and leaf part-related variations in RLC were also observed. Because of this natural variability, it appears essential to develop a consensual protocol of chlorophyll fluorescence measurements to publish reliable and comparable results between studies. We therefore notably suggest to perform measurements close to midday, when photosynthetic responses are the highest; at 10-15 m depth in order to avoid, among others, low depth light irradiance variability; on the middle part of the 3rd-4th external leaf, well developed, highly photosynthetic, and little epiphyted. Finally, because P. oceanica fluorescence was correlated with N, P and chl.b leaf contents, the PAM-method could afterwards be used as bioindicator technique, according to the protocol proposed. [less ▲]

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See detailTaxonomic sufficiency for soft-bottom macrozoobenthos long term study - A case study in corsica
Donnay, Annick ULg; Pelaprat, Corinne; Lejeune, Pierre et al

Poster (2014, December)

Nowadays, the knowledge of the marine ecological quality status of an environment is essential and soft-bottom macrobenthos is one of the indicators used. Studies of soft-bottom macrobenthos are time ... [more ▼]

Nowadays, the knowledge of the marine ecological quality status of an environment is essential and soft-bottom macrobenthos is one of the indicators used. Studies of soft-bottom macrobenthos are time consuming and need expertise for organisms’ identification. Simplifications of these studies are tried and Taxonomic Sufficiency (TS) proposed by Ellis (1985) is one of research axes. For example, some studies highlight that family level identification could be sufficient to identify perturbed area (e.g: Bacci et al., 2009; De-La-Ossa-Carretero et al., 2012; Forde et al., 2013). Nevertheless, identification at species level could be recommended to have more precise information about the existing situation (Ajmal Khan, 2006) or to complete information from others levels (Conde et al., 2013). In Corsican waters where human impacts are less important than in main land waters, we present TS based on STARESO research studies between 2006 and 2012. This work is within the frameworks of the STARE-CAPMED program dedicated to STAtion of Reference and rEsearch on Change of local and global Anthropogenic Pressures on Mediterranean Ecosystem Drifts. After Permanova analysis and Canonical analysis of principal coordinates, eight habitat types have been identified along Corsican coastal water. Their own reference conditions and ecological class boundaries have been evaluated. Those reference conditions and ecological status have been identified for species, genus and family level. A highly significant correlation of calculated values between species and genus levels (R²=0.93) has been determined and a significant correlation between species and family level (R²=0.75). Genus and family levels have a significant Spearman correlation with species level (p<0.05). An application of these reference conditions on the macrobenthos assemblages sampling on 14 stations in spring 2011 and late summer 2012 in Calvi Bay highlights areas with high, good or moderate ecological status. In conclusion, family level is sufficient to follow spatial and/or temporal ecological status. [less ▲]

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See detailEcology of 20 trace elements in Mytilus galloprovincialis
Richir, Jonathan ULg; Lepoint, Gilles ULg; Lejeune, Pierre et al

Conference (2014, December)

Trace elements (TEs) are considered as non-degradable pollutants. This persistent character can alter their natural biogeochemical balance in contaminated environments. TEs are further toxic for aquatic ... [more ▼]

Trace elements (TEs) are considered as non-degradable pollutants. This persistent character can alter their natural biogeochemical balance in contaminated environments. TEs are further toxic for aquatic organisms from threshold levels and are thus likely to cause multiple damages to the population, the community and the ecosystem levels. For these reasons, their environmental occurrence has to be accurately monitored. The main interest of the use of quantitative sentinel organisms to this end, or bioindicator species, is their capacity to give information on the bioavailability of environmental contaminants. Mussels from the genus Mytilus are particularly well suited organisms for the monitoring of the coastal contamination. Native wild and cultured Mytilus galloprovincialis Lamarck, 1819 have been widely used since around 40 years to this purpose along coasts of the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. But the accurate use of a bioindicator relies on the detailed knowledge of its ecophysiology and the influence of environmental variables on the bioaccumulation processes. In the framework of the STARECAPMED project, the ecology of 20 TEs in M. galloprovincialis is therefore investigated. The mussel morphometry and biology firstly define the TE accumulation processes. Accumulated TE are internally regulated and redistributed between body compartments; these internal processes notably depend on the essential or non-essential character of TEs. As filter feeder, mussels accumulate soluble and suspended TEs whose environmental levels are determined by the geomorphology, the physico-chemistry and the hydrology of monitored coastal meadows. All these factors are acting together to modulate the TE accumulation processes in mussels. TE bioaccumulated levels further balance quickly when any physiological or environmental changes occur in order to reach a new steady-state with environmental TE loads. The ecology of TEs in M. galloprovincialis is thus complex and very dynamic; these considerations must be taken into account when monitoring the chemical contamination of coastal meadows. [less ▲]

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