Foraminiferal Distribution in Two Estuarine Intertidal Mudflats of the French Atlantic Coast : Testing the Marine Influence Index Article - Février 2022

Marie Fouet, David Singer, Alexandra Coynel, Swann Héliot, Hélène Howa, Julie Lalande, Aurélia Mouret, Magali Schweizer, Guillaume Tcherkez, Frans Jorissen

Marie Fouet, David Singer, Alexandra Coynel, Swann Héliot, Hélène Howa, Julie Lalande, Aurélia Mouret, Magali Schweizer, Guillaume Tcherkez, Frans Jorissen, « Foraminiferal Distribution in Two Estuarine Intertidal Mudflats of the French Atlantic Coast : Testing the Marine Influence Index  », Water, février 2022, p. 645. ISSN 2073-4441

Abstract

This study focuses on the foraminiferal distribution on intertidal mudflats of two contrasted estuaries (Auray and Vie) along the French Atlantic coast. In both estuaries, the foraminiferal communities are dominated by Haynesina germanica and the Ammonia tepida group. Stations located near the outlets show a high diversity and abundance of species of the genus Elphidium. Stations in the inner estuary show a higher proportion of agglutinated species (Ammotium salsum, Ammobaculites agglutinans). Multivariate statistical analysis suggests that the distance to the sea and the percentage of fine sediment (<63 µm) are the two main parameters explaining the foraminiferal distribution. Chemical analyses of the sediment show that the two studied estuaries are not affected by major anthropogenic pollution, so that the faunas should mainly reflect the natural controlling parameters. Three indices of environmental quality commonly used in coastal areas show counter-intuitive differences between stations, suggesting that these indices may be less reliable for use in intertidal estuarine mudflats. The newly developed Marine Influence Index (MII) integrates three major ecological factors : the position of the sampling point on the salinity gradient, the emergence time at low tide and the relative importance of fresh water discharge. In our dataset, MII shows significant correlations with the controlling environmental parameters (distance to the sea, percentage grains < 63 µm), as well as with the foraminiferal patterns (PCA axis 1, species richness, percentage of Elphidium spp. and Quinqueloculina spp.). These results suggest that the MII explains a substantial part of the faunal variability on estuarine intertidal mudflats, and can be used to detect deviations from the natural distribution patterns in response to anthropogenic pollution.

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