Meiofauna as descriptor of tourism-induced changes at sandy beaches
Gheskiere, T.; Vincx, M.; Weslawski, J.M.; Scapini, F.; Degraer, S. (2005). Meiofauna as descriptor of tourism-induced changes at sandy beaches. Mar. Environ. Res. 60(2): 245-265. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marenvres.2004.10.006
Gheskiere, T.; Vincx, M.; Weslawski, J.M.; Scapini, F.; Degraer, S. (2005). Meiofauna as descriptor of tourism-induced changes at sandy beaches, in: Gheskiere, T. Nematode assemblages from European sandy beaches: diversity, zonation patterns and tourist impacts = Nematodengemeenschappen van Europese zandstranden: diversiteit, zonatiepatronen en impacts van toerisme. pp. 65-87, more
Tourism has long been considered as a ‘clean industry’ with almost no negative effects on the environment. This study demonstrated, in two different coastal systems (Mediterranean and Baltic), that tourism related activities are particularly affecting the sandy beach meio- and nematofauna in the upper beach zone, the specific ecotone in which many meiofauna species from both the marine and the terrestrial environment congregate. Tourist upper beaches are characterized by a lower % total organic matter (%TOM), lower densities, lower diversities (absence of Insecta, Harpacticoida, Oligochaeta, terrestrial nematodes and marine Ironidae nematodes) and higher community stress compared to nearby non-tourist locations. The %TOM was found to be the single most important factor for the observed differences in meiofauna assemblage structure at tourist versus non-tourist beaches in both the Mediterranean and the Baltic region. The free-living nematode assemblages from tourist upper zones depart significantly from expectations based on random selections from the regional nematode species pool. Furthermore upper zone assemblages are characterised by a low species diversity consisting of taxonomically closely related nematode species with r-strategist features. Generally, faunal differences between tourist and non-tourist beaches are decreasing towards the lower beach zones.