Biodiversity and food web indicators of community recovery in intertidal shellfish reefs

M.J.A. Christianen*, T. van der Heide, S.J. Holthuijsen, K.J. van der Reijden, A.C.W. Borst, H. Olff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In conservation strategies of marine ecosystems, priority is given to habitat-structuring foundation species (e.g. seagrasses, mangroves and reef-building corals, shellfish) with the implicit goal to protect or restore associated communities and their interactions. However, the number and accuracy of community level metrics to measure the success of these strategies are limited. Using intertidal shellfish reefs as a model, we tested to what extent foundation species alter community and food web structure, and explored whether basic metrics of food web structure are useful indicators of ecosystem complexity compared to other often-used indices. We found that shellfish reefs strongly modified community and food web structure by modifying habitat conditions (e.g. hydrodynamics, sediment grain size). Stable isotope-based food web reconstruction captured important differences between communities from bare mudflat and shellfish reefs that did not emerge from classic abundance or diversity measures. On shellfish reefs, link density and the number of top predators were consistently higher, while both connectance and the richness of intermediate species was lower. Species richness (+ 42%), species density (+ 79%) and total biomass of benthos, fish and birds (+ 41%) was also higher on shellfish reefs, but this did not affect the Shannon diversity or Evenness. Hence, our results showed that basic food web metrics such as link density and number of top consumers and intermediate species combined with traditional measures of species richness can provide a robust tool to measure conservation and restoration success. We therefore suggest that these metrics are included as Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBV), and implemented as ecosystem health indicators in legislative frameworks such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-324
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume213
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

Fingerprint

shellfish
food webs
food web
reefs
reef
biodiversity
species richness
species diversity
ecosystem health
mudflat
habitat
habitats
benthic organisms
marine ecosystem
mangrove
hydrodynamics
stable isotopes
benthos
indicator
corals

Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Ecological networks
  • Facilitation
  • Foundation species
  • Habitat modification
  • Trophic interactions

Cite this

Christianen, M. J. A., van der Heide, T., Holthuijsen, S. J., van der Reijden, K. J., Borst, A. C. W., & Olff, H. (2017). Biodiversity and food web indicators of community recovery in intertidal shellfish reefs. Biological Conservation, 213, 317-324. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2016.09.028
Christianen, M.J.A. ; van der Heide, T. ; Holthuijsen, S.J. ; van der Reijden, K.J. ; Borst, A.C.W. ; Olff, H. / Biodiversity and food web indicators of community recovery in intertidal shellfish reefs. In: Biological Conservation. 2017 ; Vol. 213. pp. 317-324.
@article{b6caed0949c740298ad353fbb4dc6322,
title = "Biodiversity and food web indicators of community recovery in intertidal shellfish reefs",
abstract = "In conservation strategies of marine ecosystems, priority is given to habitat-structuring foundation species (e.g. seagrasses, mangroves and reef-building corals, shellfish) with the implicit goal to protect or restore associated communities and their interactions. However, the number and accuracy of community level metrics to measure the success of these strategies are limited. Using intertidal shellfish reefs as a model, we tested to what extent foundation species alter community and food web structure, and explored whether basic metrics of food web structure are useful indicators of ecosystem complexity compared to other often-used indices. We found that shellfish reefs strongly modified community and food web structure by modifying habitat conditions (e.g. hydrodynamics, sediment grain size). Stable isotope-based food web reconstruction captured important differences between communities from bare mudflat and shellfish reefs that did not emerge from classic abundance or diversity measures. On shellfish reefs, link density and the number of top predators were consistently higher, while both connectance and the richness of intermediate species was lower. Species richness (+ 42{\%}), species density (+ 79{\%}) and total biomass of benthos, fish and birds (+ 41{\%}) was also higher on shellfish reefs, but this did not affect the Shannon diversity or Evenness. Hence, our results showed that basic food web metrics such as link density and number of top consumers and intermediate species combined with traditional measures of species richness can provide a robust tool to measure conservation and restoration success. We therefore suggest that these metrics are included as Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBV), and implemented as ecosystem health indicators in legislative frameworks such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).",
keywords = "Biodiversity, Ecological networks, Facilitation, Foundation species, Habitat modification, Trophic interactions",
author = "M.J.A. Christianen and {van der Heide}, T. and S.J. Holthuijsen and {van der Reijden}, K.J. and A.C.W. Borst and H. Olff",
year = "2017",
month = "9",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.biocon.2016.09.028",
language = "English",
volume = "213",
pages = "317--324",
journal = "Biological Conservation",
issn = "0006-3207",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

Christianen, MJA, van der Heide, T, Holthuijsen, SJ, van der Reijden, KJ, Borst, ACW & Olff, H 2017, 'Biodiversity and food web indicators of community recovery in intertidal shellfish reefs', Biological Conservation, vol. 213, pp. 317-324. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2016.09.028

Biodiversity and food web indicators of community recovery in intertidal shellfish reefs. / Christianen, M.J.A.; van der Heide, T.; Holthuijsen, S.J.; van der Reijden, K.J.; Borst, A.C.W.; Olff, H.

In: Biological Conservation, Vol. 213, 01.09.2017, p. 317-324.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Biodiversity and food web indicators of community recovery in intertidal shellfish reefs

AU - Christianen, M.J.A.

AU - van der Heide, T.

AU - Holthuijsen, S.J.

AU - van der Reijden, K.J.

AU - Borst, A.C.W.

AU - Olff, H.

PY - 2017/9/1

Y1 - 2017/9/1

N2 - In conservation strategies of marine ecosystems, priority is given to habitat-structuring foundation species (e.g. seagrasses, mangroves and reef-building corals, shellfish) with the implicit goal to protect or restore associated communities and their interactions. However, the number and accuracy of community level metrics to measure the success of these strategies are limited. Using intertidal shellfish reefs as a model, we tested to what extent foundation species alter community and food web structure, and explored whether basic metrics of food web structure are useful indicators of ecosystem complexity compared to other often-used indices. We found that shellfish reefs strongly modified community and food web structure by modifying habitat conditions (e.g. hydrodynamics, sediment grain size). Stable isotope-based food web reconstruction captured important differences between communities from bare mudflat and shellfish reefs that did not emerge from classic abundance or diversity measures. On shellfish reefs, link density and the number of top predators were consistently higher, while both connectance and the richness of intermediate species was lower. Species richness (+ 42%), species density (+ 79%) and total biomass of benthos, fish and birds (+ 41%) was also higher on shellfish reefs, but this did not affect the Shannon diversity or Evenness. Hence, our results showed that basic food web metrics such as link density and number of top consumers and intermediate species combined with traditional measures of species richness can provide a robust tool to measure conservation and restoration success. We therefore suggest that these metrics are included as Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBV), and implemented as ecosystem health indicators in legislative frameworks such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

AB - In conservation strategies of marine ecosystems, priority is given to habitat-structuring foundation species (e.g. seagrasses, mangroves and reef-building corals, shellfish) with the implicit goal to protect or restore associated communities and their interactions. However, the number and accuracy of community level metrics to measure the success of these strategies are limited. Using intertidal shellfish reefs as a model, we tested to what extent foundation species alter community and food web structure, and explored whether basic metrics of food web structure are useful indicators of ecosystem complexity compared to other often-used indices. We found that shellfish reefs strongly modified community and food web structure by modifying habitat conditions (e.g. hydrodynamics, sediment grain size). Stable isotope-based food web reconstruction captured important differences between communities from bare mudflat and shellfish reefs that did not emerge from classic abundance or diversity measures. On shellfish reefs, link density and the number of top predators were consistently higher, while both connectance and the richness of intermediate species was lower. Species richness (+ 42%), species density (+ 79%) and total biomass of benthos, fish and birds (+ 41%) was also higher on shellfish reefs, but this did not affect the Shannon diversity or Evenness. Hence, our results showed that basic food web metrics such as link density and number of top consumers and intermediate species combined with traditional measures of species richness can provide a robust tool to measure conservation and restoration success. We therefore suggest that these metrics are included as Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBV), and implemented as ecosystem health indicators in legislative frameworks such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

KW - Biodiversity

KW - Ecological networks

KW - Facilitation

KW - Foundation species

KW - Habitat modification

KW - Trophic interactions

U2 - 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.09.028

DO - 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.09.028

M3 - Article

VL - 213

SP - 317

EP - 324

JO - Biological Conservation

JF - Biological Conservation

SN - 0006-3207

ER -