Distribution Patterns of Benthic Foraminifera in Fish Farming Areas (Corsica, France): Implications for the Implementation of Biotic Indices in Biomonitoring Studies

Research areas:
  • Antoine Dubois
  • Christine Barras
  • Jean-Charles Pavard
  • Annick Donnay
  • Melvin Béatrix
  • Vincent M. P. Bouchet
Corsican marine aquaculture is one of the highest contributors of fish production in France, which may result in environmental perturbations caused by organic matter (OM) accumulation under fish farms and impacting natural communities. This study aimed to (1) characterise the environmental conditions at two different fish farms, (2) monitor the response of benthic foraminiferal species to this activity, and (3) assess the accuracy of existing foraminiferal biotic indices. In 2017, sea floor sediment was sampled in transects from two Corsican fish farms for living foraminiferal and sedimentary analyses. Four indices were calculated and compared: exp(H′bc), Foram-AMBI, Foram Stress Index and TSI-Med. A significant increase in total organic carbon (TOC) has been shown, mainly below the fish cages. Communities were characterized by a shift from high density, opportunistic and tolerant species under the cages to lower densities and more sensitive species further away. According to their distribution patterns along the TOC gradient, we propose to update the ecological group classification of seven species to improve Foram-AMBI’s accuracy and sensitivity: Triloculina oblonga and Quinqueloculina lamarckiana to Ecological Group (EG) I; Rosalina bradyi to EGIII; and Bolivina dilatata, Bulimina aculeata and Quinqueloculina stalkeri to EGIV. We recommend prioritising the use of TSI-Med and Foram-AMBI with the updated list to assess ecological quality in coastal waters of the Mediterranean Sea.