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Hard substrate m onitoring in the Scheldt estuary: Changes in species distribution from 1989 till 1998.
P. Schouten
In the scope o f BIOM ON (initiated by RIKZ) Bureau W aardenburg bv executed hard substrate monitoring in
the Scheldt estuary during the years 1989 till 1998. Sessile species can be indicator species for environmental
changes and insight in their habitat can be o f value during impact studies.
The monitoring took place at two locations: Ritthem and Kruiningen. The biodiversity o f the Ritthem over the
years has been relatively high. This is probably due to strong marine influences at this location. Several species
o f seaweed occur here. In 1998 seaw eed’s where responsible for m ore than 50 % o f the total am ount o f species.
Since 1991 an immigrant, the Japanese oyster (Crassostrea gigas), has becom e m ore and m ore abundant,
causing changes in species distribution and abundance at this location.
Kruiningen has a relative low biodiversity compared to Ritthem. This is probably due to strong fluctuations o f
the salinity at this location, also indicated by the appearance o f brackish w ater species. Only one seaweed lives
here (Porphyrci umbilicalis). Several other species come and go over the years causing clear changes in species
distribution and abundance at this location. In comparison to the results at Ritthem, the abundance o f the
Japanese oyster also m ade a big increase at this location.
The strong up com e o f the Japanese oyster can have a dramatic influence on the receiving ecosystem. With the
rise o f the oyster population original substrate disappears and there are indications the oysters compete with
other filter feeders for food. W hat will come o f this in the future remains to be seen.