Biotic variation in coastal water bodies in Sussex, England: implications for saline lagoons

Christopher Joyce, C. Vina-Herben, Daniel J. Metcalfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Coastal water bodies are a heterogeneous resource typified by high spatial and temporal variability and threatened by anthropogenic impacts. This includes saline lagoons, which support a specialist biota and are a priority habitat for nature conservation. This paper describes the biotic variation in coastal water bodies in Sussex, England, in order to characterise the distinctiveness of the saline lagoon community and elucidate environmental factors that determine its distribution. Twenty-eight coastal water bodies were surveyed for their aquatic flora and invertebrate fauna and a suite of exploratory environmental variables compiled. Ordination and cluster analyses were used to examine patterns in community composition and relate these to environmental parameters. Biotic variation in the coastal water body resource was high. Salinity was the main environmental parameter explaining the regional distribution of taxa; freshwater and saline assemblages were evident and related to sea water ingress. Freshwater sites were indicated by the plant Myriophyllum spicatum and gastropod mollusc Lymnaea peregra, while more saline communities supported marine and brackish water taxa, notably a range of chlorophytic algae and the bivalve mollusc Cerastoderma glaucum. Site community differences were also related to bank slope and parameters describing habitat heterogeneity. A saline lagoon community was discerned within the matrix of biotic variation consisting of specialist lagoonal species with associated typically euryhaline taxa. For fauna, the latter were the molluscs Abra tenuis and Hydrobia ulvae, and the crustaceans Corophium volutator and Palaemonetes varians, and for flora they were the algae Ulva lactuca, Chaetomorpha mediterranea, Cladophora spp. and Enteromorpha intestinalis. One non-native polychaete species, Ficopomatus enigmaticus, also strongly influenced community structure within the lagoonal resource. The community was not well defined as specialist and associated taxa were distributed throughout the spectrum of sites surveyed. Implications for the identification and conservation of saline lagoons are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-644
Number of pages12
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Volume65
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005

Keywords

  • coastal ecosystems
  • saline lagoons
  • biotic variation
  • flora
  • invertebrate fauna
  • England

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