Faculté des sciences et de médecine

Foraminiferal-based biotic indices to assess the ecological quality status of the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia): Present limitations and future perspectives

Kateb, Akram El ; Stalder, Claudio ; Martínez-Colón, Michael ; Mateu-Vicens, Guillem ; Francescangeli, Fabio ; Coletti, Giovanni ; Stainbank, Stephanie ; Spezzaferri, Silvia

In: Ecological Indicators, 2020, vol. 111, p. 105962

Biotic indices are tools to assess the ecological status of marine systems, and can be based on different metrics (such as ecological groups, specific diversity). The present study applies five biotic indices based on living (stained) benthic foraminiferal assemblages to assess ecological conditions in a wide area of the Mediterranean Sea in the heavily polluted Gulf of Gabes and along the... Mehr

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    Summary
    Biotic indices are tools to assess the ecological status of marine systems, and can be based on different metrics (such as ecological groups, specific diversity). The present study applies five biotic indices based on living (stained) benthic foraminiferal assemblages to assess ecological conditions in a wide area of the Mediterranean Sea in the heavily polluted Gulf of Gabes and along the western and eastern coasts of the Djerba Island, with the eastern coast considered as “pristine”. The applied indices are based on epiphytic foraminifera e.g., the “long versus short life span” index (ILS) and the modified FoRAM-Index (FI’), benthic foraminiferal assemblage composition and diversity, e.g., the Tolerant Species index (TSstd), the Foram Stress Index (FSI), the diversity Index (exp(H’bc)) and the newly developed Foram-AZTI Marine Biotic Index (Foram-AMBI). This latter index was tested using species of benthic foraminifera presently assigned to ecological groups in the Mediterranean Sea. All indices confirm good ecological conditions eastern of Djerba. The FI’ and ILS, % TSstd, FSI, indicate a severe anthropogenic impact especially in the central part of the Gulf of Gabes, next to the phosphate industry of Skhira and along the western coast of Djerba Island and confirm direct observations and geochemical data. The indices based on epiphytic foraminifera seem to better reflect actual environmental conditions in the investigated region because of the extended Posidonia oceanica meadow in the area. The exp(H’bc) reflects lower degrees of pollution. The application of the Foram-AMBI index presents limitations that prevent its current use. It strongly underestimates the pollution impact along the Tunisian coast, and additional work is needed to increase the number of species attributed to ecological groups and to possibly modify the coefficients to be used in its equation.