Reduction of flatfish habitat as a consequence of the proliferation of an invasive mollusc

Abstract : Coastal bays provide habitats for juveniles and adults of many marine species. Mont Saint-Michel Bay (MSMB, France) hosts a highly diversified fish community and constitutes one of the most important nursery grounds for many commercially exploited marine species, such as sea bass, flatfish, clupeids and rays in the English Channel. Besides, MSMB also suffers from the massive invasion of an exotic mollusc, the American slipper-limpet (Crepidula fornicata, L). This species arrived four decades ago and now represents the main filter-feeder biomass in the bay (150 Mt), an order of magnitude larger than local farmed and natural shellfishes. Recent analyses underlined the impact of this small gastropod on the trophic structure of this bay and its negative influence on juvenile sole densities in the nursery grounds. The present study uses a geostatistical approach to explore the effect of the extension of the slipper-limpet on flatfish (common sole Solea solea, L plaice Pleuronectes platessa, L brill Scophthalmus rhombus, L and flounder Platichthys flesus, L) spatial distribution. Data collected during survey of the MSMB at the end of the 1970s and three decades later have been used to build interpolated maps of (1) slipper-limpet and (2) flatfish spatial distributions. Slipper-limpets were concentrated in a small area, in the western part of the MSMB, in the 1970s while today they occupy half of the bay. This rapid proliferation led to the decrease of available surface for flatfishes, which previously occupied the whole bay and are now restricted to its eastern part. The present study highlighted that the negative influence on fish habitat in MSMB is apparently more related to changes in the substratum than to trophic interactions. This invasion has possible consequences on flatfish population renewal at a large scale and may also damage other benthic or demersal species, such as rays.
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Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, Elsevier, 2011, 92 (1), pp.7. 〈10.1016/j.ecss.2010.12.026〉
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Caroline Kostecki, Sebastien Rochette, R. Girardin, Michel Blanchard, Nicolas Desroy, et al.. Reduction of flatfish habitat as a consequence of the proliferation of an invasive mollusc. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, Elsevier, 2011, 92 (1), pp.7. 〈10.1016/j.ecss.2010.12.026〉. 〈hal-00730159〉

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