Assessment of the subtidal macrobenthic community functioning of a temperate estuary following environmental restoration

Helena Verissimo, Julie Bremner, Clement Garcia, Joana Patricio, Pieter van der Linden, Joao Carlos Marques

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Biological Traits Analysis (BTA) is a recently proposed method for addressing ecological functioning based on traits exhibited by members of biological assemblages. This multi-trait approach was applied to the soft-bottom subtidal macrobenthic communities of the Mondego estuary (Portugal), aiming to assess its functioning following a management measure implemented in this system. In particular, the response of benthic assemblages to restoration efforts was investigated over a 5-year period, testing for temporal differences before and after management, in order to assess the effectiveness of this recovery action. 

BTA revealed to be a useful approach providing valuable information on the functioning of the subtidal benthic communities. Overall, results suggested that there have been some changes in the ecosystem over the study period, although the success of the management measure at the benthic functional level revealed unclear. The climatic variability experienced in the estuary over the monitoring period seemed to have played a significant role in masking the potential effects of restoration. Furthermore, evidence suggested a possible persistence in the benthic functioning despite the occurrence of shifts in taxonomic composition, assured by the potential ability of different species with an alike set of traits to perform similar roles in the ecosystem. 

To best of our knowledge, this study constituted one of the first attempts to investigate the effects of a management measure in an estuary by means of Biological Traits Analysis. As such, it can thus be useful as a guideline for further management actions in the Mondego estuary extendable to other poikilohaline estuaries as well, and to provide insights on the BTA application to this type of ecosystems. (c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-322
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Indicators
Early online date8 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Biological Traits Analysis (BTA)
  • Functioning
  • Estuaries
  • Management

Cite this