Are strandline meiofaunal assemblages affected by a once-only mechanical beach cleaning? Experimental findings
Gheskiere, T.; Vincx, M.; Pison, G.; Degraer, S. (2006). Are strandline meiofaunal assemblages affected by a once-only mechanical beach cleaning? Experimental findings. Mar. Environ. Res. 61(3): 245-264. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marenvres.2005.10.003
The increasing usage of sandy beaches as recreational resources has forced regional authorities of many tourist countries to remove all litter of fabricated origin and natural wrack from the beach. Consequently, a variety of heavy equipment has been developed during the last decades and is now used almost daily at many beaches. A field experiment, following a ‘before-after-control-impact’ (BACI) design, was conducted at the strandline of De Panne (Belgium) to investigate the impacts of mechanical beach cleaning on the strandline-associated meiofaunal assemblages, focussing on the free-living nematodes. Natural strandline assemblages were exposed to a one-off 5 cm deep mechanical beach cleaning and observed for 24 h. Differences between cleaned plots and those from control plots in terms of decreased percentage of organic matter, decreased total abundance and changed community structure were noticed from immediately after the experimental cleaning onwards and recovered to initial values after the following high water. Any impacts due to cleaning on species richness, Pielou’s evenness and taxonomic diversity were shown to be minor in relation to the daily changes. Recolonization in the cleaned sediments is assumed to occur from the underlying sediments initiated by the elevated water table during the rising tide.