Mollusc aquaculture homogenizes intertidal soft-sediment communities along the 18,400 km long coastline of China

He-Bo Peng, Ying-Chi Chan, Tanya J. Compton, Xue-Fei Cheng, David S. Melville, Shou-Dong Zhang, Zhengwang Zhang, Guangchun Lei*, Zhijun Ma*, Theunis Piersma

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

14 Citaten (Scopus)
130 Downloads (Pure)


Abstract Aim Molluscs are important grazers, filter and deposit feeders, scavengers and predators, which in turn are food for shorebirds, fish and people. Some species, targeted as human food, have been cultured along the Chinese coast for hundreds of years. To examine whether aquacultural practices have meanwhile affected biodiversity gradients, we measured mollusc community structure along the coast of China in habitats which are intensively used by humans. Location Chinese coast. Methods We sampled 21 intertidal sites spanning 20 latitudinal degrees and 18,400 km of coastline. We assessed alpha diversity to verify whether mollusc communities exhibit the expected biodiversity gradient with latitude and beta diversity gradients with distance. To examine whether human activities such as transportation and culturing could have affected these patterns, we distinguished commercial from non-commercial mollusc species and compared the differences in distribution, density, alpha diversity and beta diversity. Results We found non-commercial species showed the expected biodiversity gradients. Commercial species (a) dominated the intertidal mollusc communities at 19 of the 21 sites and compared with non-commercial species, (b) exhibited wider geographical distributions, (c) showed no significant change in Bray-Curtis index (abundance-based beta diversity) with either geographical or climatic distance, (d) exhibited lower average dissimilarities and (e) did not show a decrease in species richness and Shannon diversity with latitude. Combining all species, trends were the same as for the commercial species. Main conclusions A few cultured species dominated the intertidal mollusc communities in high densities along the Chinese coastline, taking over the ecological roles of the native species but not driving them extinct. In this way, aquacultural practices have exerted a homogenizing influence strong enough to erase basic biodiversity gradients. Since molluscs are food for the growing human population and the shrinking populations of migratory animals, coastal planning and management of both intertidal habitats and the exploitative activities employed need to incorporate these dimensions.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)1553-1567
Aantal pagina's15
TijdschriftDiversity and Distributions
Nummer van het tijdschrift8
Vroegere onlinedatum21-mei-2021
StatusPublished - aug.-2021

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