A multimetric approach was used to detect structural, compositional, and functional shifts in the underlying macrobenthic communities of an offshore mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) farm in a Portuguese Aquaculture Production Area. Sampling stations distributed inside and outside this area were used to evaluate sediment descriptors and macrobenthic samples collected before (April and September 2010) and after (June and September 2014) the initiation of mussel farming. Sediment fine fraction, organic matter content, and trace element concentrations were found to increase with depth, independently from the mussel farm. Moreover, the structure and composition of the macrobenthic communities were likewise structured by depth. Turnover was the dominant temporal and spatial pattern of beta diversity for all communities. Furthermore, the functional diversity of these communities was unaffected by the mussel farm. These results suggested that an offshore profile allowed hydrodynamic conditions to weaken the impact of mussel farming and highlighted the importance of conducting an integrative multimetric analysis when studying aquaculture impacts on benthic communities.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was funded under the FEDER Program through the project IAPAA “Avaliação do impacto da área de produção aquícola da Armona no ecossistema costeiro e comunidades locais” (PROMAR project 31-03-01-FEP-0014). The authors would like to thank Pedro Lino, Jorge Ramos, João Araújo, Ana Mendes, and Pedro Pousão for providing valuable information about the Armona APA and Maria L. Inácio for her contribution during the chemical analysis. Special thanks are also due to all the colleagues that participated in the sampling campaigns and laboratory procedures that were vital to this project. The authors would also like to thank the editor and the three reviewers for constructive comments that highly contributed to improving the quality of the manuscript