5 years ago

Benthic ecological status of Algerian harbours

This work is an overview of all available benthic data collected in the Algerian harbours between 1983 and 2001. So, total of 571 stations were reported in the 10 major Algerian harbours along the Algerian coast (1200km). Two main categories of harbours were distinguished according to their hydrodynamic regime and volume of water exchange between inner harbour basins and the entrance of the harbours. Univariate, multivariate, benthic indices and Biological Traits of Life approaches were applied on stations sampled in the late 1990s and long-term observations in six out of these ten harbours. These approaches assessed the main characteristics and ecological statuses from these south Mediterranean harbours. One of the main characteristics of the Algerian harbours was the very high species diversity (847 species). Although all the fauna was dominated by pollution-tolerant species; some harbours such as Bethioua and Djendjen hosted normal benthic communities as found in the open sea, but also included some pollution indicator species typical of a slight polluted system. On the contrary, the newly constructed port of Skikda showed perturbed benthic communities in relation to hydrocarbon pollution. Biological Traits of Life analysis reinforced the separation of benthic species along a gradient reflecting their sensitivity or tolerance to pollution. This response was related to an increase in organic matter content, probably associated with a general organic and metal contamination, from the entrance of the harbour to the innermost basins in areas with weak circulation, high sedimentation rate and concentrations of pollutants. Except for Oran harbour, where the poor to moderate ecological status remained unchanged with time, the other harbours showed an improvement or a slight degradation. A strategy of long-term monitoring should be promoted, based on a restricted and selected number of stations characteristic of the different basins and water masses occupying the harbours.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0025326X1730783X

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