The Future of Benthic Indicators: Moving up to the Intertidal


The use of benthic indicators has increased dramatically during the last decades. The number of articles published on the subject, as well as the number of citations, has been particularly increasing since the early 90’s, notably in relation with the implementation of directives for the management of aquatic/marine ecosystems such as the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Current benthic indicators suffer from severe drawbacks and their practical use is still discussed and might have reached a dead end. Indicators based on species composition are not totally satisfactory, mainly because they exhibit a high spatio-temporal variability (e.g. variable at both seasonal and pluri-annual scales) and are user-dependent (e.g. divergent results from US orEuropeexperts.) In turn, modifications of behaviour, metabolism, phenotype or stable isotopes composition in invertebrates usually occur at short time scales, compared to detectable changes in community composition, and makes their use particularly relevant as indicators of perturbation. It is argued in this paper that these functional indicators might be relatively quickly implemented in the intertidal, and represent an effective alternative to current benthic indicators.

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Spilmont, N. (2013) The Future of Benthic Indicators: Moving up to the Intertidal. Open Journal of Marine Science, 3, 76-86. doi: 10.4236/ojms.2013.32A008.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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