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Macrobenthic zonation patterns along a morphodynamical continuum of macrotidal, low tide bar/rip and ultra-dissipative sandy beaches
Degraer, S.; Volckaert, A.M.; Vincx, M. (2003). Macrobenthic zonation patterns along a morphodynamical continuum of macrotidal, low tide bar/rip and ultra-dissipative sandy beaches. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 56(3-4): 459-468.
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714; e-ISSN 1096-0015, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Aquatic communities > Benthos
    Earth sciences > Geology > Geomorphology > Coastal morphology
    Tidal range
    Topographic features > Landforms > Coastal landforms > Beaches
    Belgium [Marine Regions]
Author keywords
    sandy beach; macrobenthos; morphodynamical gradient; tidal range; Belgium

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    The species composition, densities, biomass and zonation patterns of the macrobenthos of sandy beaches are greatly influenced by the morphodynamics and morphology of the beaches. Macrobenthic zonation patterns along a small-scale morphodynamic gradient, comprising eight Belgian beach sites, were investigated. By taking into account the dimensionless fall velocity (O) and the relative tidal range, the beach sites were ordered along the gradient from the ultra-dissipative beach type (UD) to the low tide bar/rip beach type (LTBR). The resulting beach state index varied between 1.8 and 4.2 and the beach profiles were related with the beaches' morphodynamic state.

    In total 35 macrobenthic species, mainly polychaetes and crustaceans, were encountered, varying between 19 and 23 species per beach site. The species composition was quite similar among beach sites, with Scolelepis squamata being abundant at all eight sites. Furthermore, the macrobenthic distribution patterns were mainly related to elevation at all beach sites. Some remarkable difference in metrics, largely related to the beach morphodynamics and the consequent hydrodynamics, were found. At the hydrodynamically benign and consequently macrobenthos-rich UD beaches, the highest macrobenthic densities and biomass occurred on the upper beach, while at the hydrodynamically harsh and thus macrobenthos-poor LTBR beaches, the maximum densities and biomass occurred lower on the beach. Species, typically occurring on the upper UD beaches, such as Eurydice pulchra, S. squamata, and Bathyporeia sarsi, were restricted to the sub-optimal middle and lower beach zone at LTBR beaches. Only Bathyporeia pilosa was found on the upper beach of both UD and LTBR beaches. The more robust polychaete Ophelia rathkei and the interstitial polychaete Hesionides arenaria were exclusively found in the hydrodynamically harsh conditions of the middle LTBR beach zone.

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