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The effect of water management on extensive aquaculture food webs in the reconstructed wetlands of the Doñana Natural Park, Southern Spain

AuthorsWalton, M.E.M.; Vilas, C.; Coccia, Cristina ; Green, Andy J. ; Cañavate, J. Pedro; Prieto, A.; Berjeijk, S.A. van; Medialdea, J.M.; Kennedy, H.; King, J.; Le Vay, Lewis
Issue Date2015
CitationAquaculture 448: 451- 463 (2015)
Abstract© 2015 Elsevier B.V. Extensive aquaculture in coastal and estuarine wetlands can support both increased food production and wider ecosystem services when underpinned by effective management to promote productivity and hence food webs that support both commercial species and biodiversity. Changing hydrology, specifically water movement, within wetlands significantly impacts the physico-chemical properties of the water body and hence can be employed to manipulate productivity and alter patterns of recruitment of commercial species and may also transfer non-native species from the supplying water bodies. The reconstructed wetlands of Veta la Palma in the Doñana Natural Park are subjected to either a 1% or 5%d<sup>-1</sup> water exchange with water drawn from the adjacent Guadalquivir estuary. This site provides an excellent opportunity for examining the effect of water management on the food webs that support both the birdlife and aquaculture activities for which this habitat is managed. Stable isotopes were used to examine food webs in three replicate lagoons under each water management scheme. In lagoons receiving higher water exchange, phytoplankton productivity appeared to be more important than benthic production in supporting food webs. Increased water exchange also changed the shape of the food webs, facilitated the colonisation of at least one non-native species and increased the importance of non-native species in the diets of large commercially harvested fish (>60% of seabass diet). Lagoons with high water flows also had between three and four times greater shrimp biomass than those of low flow lagoons. Non-native fauna were opportunistic omnivores, eating marginally more non-natives in lagoons with greater water exchange. Overall non-native cordgrass Spartina densiflora contributed only slightly more to food webs compared with the native reed Phragmites australis, despite the lagoon edge occupancy ratio of 9:1, respectively. Non-natives also appear to enhance food provision for large predators and wetland birds, by increasing biomass, without competing for resources with native species, supporting the dual management objectives of aquaculture and waterbird conservation. Statement of relevance: Extensive aquaculture productivity appears to be positively correlated with water exchange rates.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2015.06.011
issn: 0044-8486
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