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Spatial and temporal response of multiple trait-based indices to natural- and anthropogenic seafloor disturbance (effluents)
van der Linden, P.; Borja, A.; Rodríquez, J.G.; Muxika, I.; Galparsoro, I.; Patrício, J.; Veríssimo, H.; Marques, J.C. (2016). Spatial and temporal response of multiple trait-based indices to natural- and anthropogenic seafloor disturbance (effluents). Ecol. Indic. 69: 617-628.
In: Ecological Indicators. Elsevier: Shannon. ISSN 1470-160X; e-ISSN 1872-7034, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Ecosystem functioning, Impact assessment, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Macroinvertebrates, Biodiversity, Ecological indicators

Authors  Top 
  • van der Linden, P.
  • Borja, A., more
  • Rodríquez, J.G.
  • Muxika, I.
  • Galparsoro, I.
  • Patrício, J.
  • Veríssimo, H.
  • Marques, J.C.

    To support ecosystem-based management and achieve the Good Environmental Status (GES) of marine waters it is important to better comprehend the relationships between biodiversity and environmental disturbance (anthropogenic and natural). Biotic indices are widely used in studies to help understanding these relationships and to assess the environmental status of waters. In recent years, trait-based indices rapidly emerged as an alternative ‘functional’ approach to serve this purpose. In this study, we analysed how two indices based upon the mean (community-weighted mean trait value–CWM) and the diversity of multiple traits (Rao’s quadratic entropy–Rao) in a macroinvertebrate community respond to natural- and anthropogenic seafloor disturbance (effluents) and we compared their performance with the widely used AMBI and M-AMBI. Our results demonstrate that CWM and Rao were not effective in indicating anthropogenic disturbance in the Basque coast, Bay of Biscay. The main reason was probably that many traits did not have a strong link with this type of disturbance. Besides, the mechanistic links between certain traits and their response to anthropogenic seafloor disturbance in marine environments is currently not well understood. From a management perspective: the CWM does not provide a single value indicating a quality status, which makes it a difficult tool to use and interpret. This index is probably more useful for scientists who want to explore and understand different aspects of community functioning. On the other hand, Rao and other indices expressing trait diversity do provide a single value of functioning; therefore they could potentially be effectively used for management purposes. However, to improve its performance, detailed and accurate trait data is required, which is currently lacking for many marine species.

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