Sewage discharges in oceanic islands: effects and recovery of eulittoral macrofauna assemblages
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- Cabral-Oliveira, J. & Pardal, M.A. J Coast Conserv (2016) 20: 307. doi:10.1007/s11852-016-0442-z
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Sewage discharges are among the most common anthropogenic stressors on rocky shores. However, studies on benthic invertebrates’ responses to sewage pollution on insular assemblages are rare. In order to fulfil this gap, (i) the effects of sewage pollution and (ii) the recovery capacity of eulittoral insular assemblages were examined. The study was conducted on Terceira Island (Azorean Archipelago, Portugal), in four distinct areas: one impacted area (outfall in operation), one post-impacted area (decommissioned outfall) and two undisturbed reference areas. Results showed that the abundance of the dominant species changed between reference and impacted areas. More specifically, the abundance of limpets Patella candei, and barnacles Chthamalus stellatus decreased, while the abundance of littorinids Tectarius striatus and Melarhaphe neritoides increased near the sewage discharges. Seventeen months after removal of the outfall, limpet and barnacle populations had partially recovered, but littorinid populations had still not fully recovered. This study confirms the negative effects of sewage discharges on eulittoral assemblages, and provides information on the resilience of benthic species following the cessation of sewage disposal.