The 500 km(2) of tidal flats at the Banc d'Arguin, Mauritania, are a wintering site for over 2 million shorebirds, making this one of the areas with the highest density of shorebirds in the world. In earlier studies, it was found that these huge numbers of birds are dependent on a rather low biomass of benthic animals. To explain this paradoxical situation, we hypothesized that the earlier assessments of biomass in late winter and early spring do not reflect a year-round situation. Benthic biomass may be high when the birds arrive in autumn to be subsequently grazed down in the course of winter. To test this hypothesis, we have determined benthic biomass in September 1988. The result has been compared with a biomass value obtained in February-April 1986 with the same methods and at the same stations. These two biomass values do not differ significantly; so our hypothesis has to be rejected. It has to be admitted, however, that our experimental design cannot discern between differences due to the year of sampling and those due to the season. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.