Structure and distribution of the benthic macrofauna on a Northwest African sandy beach close to a freshwater river discharge


  • Conflict of interest The authors declare no conflict of interests.

Abdellatif Bayed, Unité de Recherche OCEMAR, Institut Scientifique, Université Mohammed V-Agdal, Avenue Ibn Battota, B.P. 703, 10106 Rabat, Morocco.


The effects of the freshwater discharge of the Oued Sebou River on the macroinfauna, was studied on the sandy beach of Mehdia through the analysis of the abiotic parameters and of the macrozoobenthos. In autumn 2002 and spring 2003, three beach sites, each with two transects, localized at 50, 3500 and 5720 m from the river mouth respectively, were studied. Positive correlations were recorded for beach slope and pH whereas negative ones were obtained for organic matter content and salinity at increasing distances from the river mouth. Significant differences between beach sites and seasons occurred for median grain size, organic matter content and pH. For each beach site, mean macroinfauna abundance varied between 30 and 100 ind.·m−2 and in spring there was a significant correlation between this parameter and the increasing distance from the river mouth. No significant correlation was instead found between species richness and the increasing distance, although the farthest beach site from the mouth had the highest number of species during both seasons. The results indicated the importance of organic matter content and salinity for the macrofaunal abundance whereas the diversity indices were more affected by beach slope and grain size. The results showed that there was no clear spatial trend in compound indices of the macrofauna across the sampled sites and the influence of the river discharge of Sebou River did not seem to be significant and consistent on the macrobenthos of this mesotidal shore. Comparison with microtidal shores revealed the influence of the tidal excursion and swell characteristics on the response of the benthic structures of sandy beaches to discharges of freshwater.