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Lacoste, E., Boufahja, F., Pelaprat, C., Le Gall, P., Berteaux, T., Messiaen, G., et al. (2020). First simultaneous assessment of macro- and meiobenthic community response to juvenile shellfish culture in a Mediterranean coastal lagoon (Thau, France). Ecological Indicators, 115, 106462.
Résumé: Shellfish aquaculture has the potential to alter benthic assemblage composition with subsequent modifications of ecosystem functioning. While the impacts of aquaculture on the taxonomic structure of macro- and — to a lesser extent — meiofauna, have been widely studied, the functional changes of these communities remain relatively unknown. The recent development of biological trait analysis (BTA) has made it possible to produce information about how ecosystem functioning could change across specific terrestrial or aquatic system. In the present study, we used a BTA in parallel with standard taxonomic analysis to evaluate how well the two approaches detected the potential influence of juvenile oyster culture on the benthic community in the French Mediterranean Thau Lagoon. Two sites were sampled under farm structures and compared with two reference sites beyond the influence of farming. This study is the first detailed parallel description of macro- and meiofauna (nematodes). A total of 118 and 41 taxa were determined for macrofauna and nematodes respectively. Some taxa were more abundant or exclusively observed under farm structures such as Chaetozone gibber and Neanthes acuminata for macrofauna and Daptonema fallax and Anticoma eberthi for nematodes. Overall, our results indicate that biological traits and functional indices both detected the impact of shellfish culture on benthic assemblages, whereas macrofauna taxonomic indices revealed no difference. Our results thus suggest that trophic and ecological groups are particularly good indicators of the effects of shellfish culture. This study confirms the relevance of the functional approach, and more generally of multi-index approaches, to detect the influence of aquaculture on benthic communities. Further work is required to test multiple traits in different regions and under different systems, but this work paves the way for environmental impact assessment using a trait based approach.