Article

Impact of shorebird predation on intertidal macroinvertebrates in a key North African Atlantic wintering site: an experimental approach

Published in: African Journal of Marine Science
Volume 41, issue 1, 2019 , pages: 1–9
DOI: 10.2989/1814232X.2018.1552193
Author(s): L JoulamiFaculty of Sciences Ben M’sik, Morocco, R El HamoumiFaculty of Sciences Ben M’sik, Morocco, Z DaiefFaculty of Sciences Ain Chock, Morocco, H BazairiFaculty of Sciences, Morocco, RJ LopesCentro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos (CIBIO), InBio Laboratório Associado, Portugal

Abstract

Shorebirds, as migratory aquatic birds and top predators in intertidal ecosystems, can be affected by global environmental changes and escalations in local impacts on coastal lagoons and estuarine trophic networks. Many shorebirds winter in North African Atlantic coastal sites, most likely because these locations provide constant and reliable food supplies with less energy costs in comparison with the wintering sites of northern Europe. Although more information is available for other important southern coastal sites (e.g. Saharan Atlantic coastal desert and Guinean mangroves coast), very little information is available for the North African Atlantic coast. Here, we focus on the impact of shorebird predation on benthic macroinvertebrates in a major wintering site in this area—Sidi Moussa coastal lagoon, Morocco—using an exclosure experiment. For most of the macroinvertebrate species there was no significant effect of the exclusion of shorebird predation. Overall, our results do not show evidence that predation by shorebirds influenced the overall standing biomass of the benthic community. This may indicate that the benthic productivity is high enough to provide constant and reliable food supplies for non-breeding shorebirds.

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