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The impact of extreme turbidity events on the nursery function of a temperate European estuary with regulated freshwater inflow

AuthorsGonzález-Ortegón, Enrique ; Subida, María Dulce; Cuesta, José A. ; Arias, Alberto M. ; Fernández-Delgado, Carlos; Drake, Pilar
KeywordsNursery grounds
Anthropogenic disturbances
High turbidity events
Guadalquivir estuary
Issue Date22-Jan-2010
CitationEstuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 87(2): 311-324 (2010)
AbstractEstuaries are used as nursery grounds by numerous marine species despite being usually subject to strong anthropogenic disturbances. Abundances of marine recruits (fish and crustacean decapods) and their main prey (mysids) were monitored by monthly sampling, from June 1997 to February 2009, in the lower reaches of the Guadalquivir estuary (SW Spain). During that period, unusually high and persistent turbidity events (HPTEs) were observed twice. Both HPTEs started with strong and sudden freshwater discharges after relatively long periods of very low freshwater inflow. Data from this time-series were used to test the hypothesis that HPTEs may negatively impact the nursery function of estuaries either by decreasing prey availability or by decreasing survival/arrival of marine recruits. During HPTEs, the commonest mysid (Mesopodopsis slabberi), a key species in the estuarine food web, showed a significant decrease in abundance. Likewise, some marine recruits that prey on M. slabberi and whose peaks of abundance within the estuary occur in summer–autumn (Engraulis encrasicolus and Pomadasys incisus) were less abundant during HPTEs. It is also suggested that HPTEs might have triggered a shift in the distribution of the most euryhaline prey (Neomysis integer) and predator (Dicentrarchus punctatus and Crangon crangon) species, towards more saline waters. This could have contributed to an increase in the inter-specific competition (for food/habitat) within the estuarine nursery area. The results discussed in this study call attention to the need to reduce as much as possible the anthropogenic pressures that may stimulate the occurrence of high and persistent turbidity events (HPTEs) in order to preserve the nursery function of temperate estuaries.
Description14 páginas, 8 figuras.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2010.01.013
Appears in Collections:(ICMAN) Artículos
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